Classroom Visit at Surf Skate Science
Deerfield Beach, Florida
May 17, 2023
On Wednesday, May 17th, 2023, The International SeaKeepers Society collaborated with Surf Skate Science again at their home base in Deerfield Beach, Florida. We joined 30 students and five educators at a pavilion on the beach to do a classroom session focusing on a timely topic- Sargassum! The students split into two groups, and after finishing their morning surfing lessons, they gathered at a table where we set up a “touch tank” full of ocean water and sargassum taken right from the beach. The students listened as we discussed how Sargassum is a type of brown algae originating from the Sargasso sea that makes its way to Florida’s beaches every summer. We talked about how sargassum accumulation is a natural occurrence that is exacerbated by the addition of nitrate to our waterways via fertilizer and animal waste runoff, leading to massive accumulations of sargassum that can deplete the water of oxygen and block sunlight. With the help of some fish ID cards and diagrams, we identified some of the organisms that utilize Sargassum for protection or shelter such as juvenile fish and microorganisms, and a few students were enthusiastic to share that they had seen juvenile shrimp and sea turtles in floating Sargassum in the past! The students got to test their identification skills with a sargassum scavenger hunt out on the beach, looking for organisms such as filefish, triggerfish, anglerfish, snails, and crabs, while collecting trash and microplastics that are often tangled in the Sargassum. We are thankful to the students and educators of Surf Skate Science for having us and hope to work with their community again in the future!
The goal of the classroom visit was to allow the students of Surf Skate Science to learn about Sargassum communities and the role of sargassum as a habitat and nursery for a diverse range of organisms.