APES Spy Snakes, Explore Bay

The acronym-loving students in Eileen Perkins’ Advanced Placement Environmental Studies (APES) classes had a chance to explore the rich aquaculture of the largest estuary in North America on a September field trip to the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center in Grasonville, Maryland. The group paired off and hopped into tandem kayaks, learning to work as a team as they navigated the Muddy Creek area, spotting water snakes and waterfowl, and learning about submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). Senior Megan Nayak, a novice in the kayak, loved learning about the aquatic grasses. The region around Grasonville boasts an ideal salinity that allows as many as six types of grasses to flourish there; up to 12 different varieties exist in the entire Bay.

Students also had a chance to wade in mucky bottomed tidepools and capture samples of the diverse creatures that live in the Bay, including jellyfish, diamond back terrapin eggs, small fish, and shrimp. Students learned that while the Chesapeake Bay oyster population has been decimated by disease and overharvesting, they remain a critical component of the Bay’s ecosystem. “I learned that at restaurants you should ask whether they collect their [oyster] shells,” noted Elizabeth Kerrigan ’18; the shells can be reintroduced to the Bay, where they provide a substrate for baby oysters to attach and grow and a habitat for many other aquatic creatures.

Senior Alexandra Lindsay captured the spirit of the day, “Although I learned so much, what I enjoyed the most was hanging out and bonding with my classmates, Mrs. Perkins, Mrs. Clay, and Mrs. Fleury.” [Director of Student Activities Raynetta Jackson-Clay and Director of Learning Support Andrea Fleury]

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