Floating Classroom with Lotus Elite Academic Preparatory School
DISCOVERY YACHT River Queen
January 26, 2024
On Friday, January 26, 2024, SeaKeepers Education hosted a group of 13 elementary and middle school students from Lotus Elite Academic Preparatory School aboard DISCOVERY Yacht River Queen in Biscayne Bay. To begin our day, we joined River Queen and made our way up Biscayne Bay to Oleta River State Park while discussing how the local watershed functions and results in different types of pollution in the bay, as well as how it can impact local wildlife and public health. Once near the mouth of Oleta River, students were able to participate in water quality testing using our Earth Echo testing kits, which we use to discuss the changing conditions in the Bay and how those changes can impact the ecosystems there. One notable find from this round of tests was that dissolved oxygen concentrations in the Bay (which allows fish to breathe) were pretty high at between 6-8ppm on average, whereas 2023 ended with low DO values around 2ppm. Low dissolved oxygen can be the result of many variables, but persistent low-oxygenation in the Bay could be very harmful to aquatic wildlife and delicate estuarine ecosystems, so it is important that this is something we continue to monitor as an indicator of Biscayne Bay health. We were happy to see that the winter season and colder water temperatures are bringing the average dissolved oxygen concentration in the Bay back up to healthier levels.
While evaluating our water tests, D/Y River Queen traveled back through the Bay to Sandspur Island, one of the most visited islands in Miami and one of the only that has city trash cans and removal services on an infrequent basis. Even so, in only 45 minutes, participants were able to collect 29.2 lbs of coastal debris that could have otherwise directly entered waterways! We finished the day with a wrap up discussion about how our daily choices can impact the world around us and the many different things that we as individuals can do to help keep wildlife and our planet healthy and thriving, including reducing our waste production, minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, and following local environmental recommendations.
The goal of this floating classroom outing was to leave the Lotus Elite Academic Prep students with a better understanding of what it means to live in an urban watershed like those in South Florida, and how pollution impacts our waterways, wildlife, and how we can prevent its creation in our everyday lives. We had such a great time and hope to continue our work with these organizations in the future!