Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves Graduates “Bayologists”

July 7, 2015

MIAMI – Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves’ “Bayologist” camp program culminates with a graduation ceremony for children who have earned a “Junior Bayologist” degree by completing all three camp series consecutively. “Bayologist” camp teaches children about the importance of the bay’s plants and animals via classroom activities and on-the-water experiences.

“Children are the next generation to protect Biscayne Bay; hands-on experiences inside and around the bay are critical to their learning,” said Michelle Metcalf, Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves’ ecotourism coordinator. “As a ‘Junior Bayologist,’ campers understand the importance of clean water, Biscayne Bay’s unique ecosystem and its diverse species.”

Outdoor activities include using a seine net to view fish species, wading and swimming in Oleta River State Park, identifying bird species at a nearby rookery, canoeing around a bay island and conducting an island species scavenger hunt.

Classroom activities and lessons are bolstered by presentations from distinguished scientists from the Miami-Dade area. Speakers discuss the science behind shark tagging, marine mammal teeth types related to prey species, shorebird and wading bird identification, and plankton sampling techniques, including a plankton tow demonstration and microscope viewing.

“Bayologist camp provides a unique opportunity for local kids to learn about conserving and protecting Miami’s natural resources via outdoor activities within Biscayne Bay,” said Joanna Walczak, Florida Coastal Office southeast regional administrator. “Fostering first-hand experiences leads to an increased interest in the sciences and a connection to Florida’s aquatic preserves.”

The “Bayologist” camp program is a series of three camps that take place over a year. Offered in March, June and December, each camp’s curriculum builds on the previous camp’s lessons. Camps can be attended independently and children are not required to attend the camps consecutively; however, only children completing the three camps consecutively will be eligible for the “Junior Bayologist” degree. The next Bayologist camp will be offered during the winter school break in December 2015. Email Michelle Metcalf at michelle.a.metcalf@dep.state.fl.us for more information or to enroll in the next camp.

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