How to Survive on a Stranded Island: A Marine Conservation Guide for Students

“Imagine you are stranded on an island. The only items you have are an empty bottle, a piece of paper, and a squid you recently caught. You think, “AH-HA!” I can write a message in a bottle! Yet, you immediately realize you are missing an integral item, the pen. You glance at the squid and all of sudden you remember your squid anatomy and most importantly, that squids have ink and a pen! You write your message in a bottle and are soon rescued!”

This is the scene that I described to the kids that attended the “Art by the Sea” 2012 event on Virginia Key Beach Park. The Art by the Sea event, hosted by the Big Blue and You Foundation, is an annual event that focuses on inspiring and educating children on marine conservation. Several RSMAS students led two marine science booths including a plankton booth and a squid dissection booth. I volunteered at the squid dissection booth, teaching squid anatomy and sharing fun facts with kids. Many of them were surprised to learn that giant squids have the largest eye in the animal kingdom and that some squids can reach speeds up to 25 mph. Of course, they were most surprised to find out that all squids have ink and a pen. At the end of the dissection, each kid would “write a message in a bottle” by dipping the squid’s pen, which is actually a long and thin shell, into the squid’s ink sac. Once the “squid pen” was ready, they wrote a message on a colorful flashcard.

Volunteering for the squid dissection booth gave me the opportunity to share my knowledge and passion for ocean conservation with aspiring young scientists. It was great to see kids handle a squid for the first time and to see their excitement as they learn the insides and outsides of a squid. I believe that experiences like these are critical for children as it not only instills them with conservation awareness but also inspires them to learn, dream, and best of all, believe that they can be whoever they want to be. As I continue to pursue my career in marine biology, I hope to continue to inspire kids and to make a change, for both the ocean and for people.

This blog post is part of a series of stories written by RSMAS graduate students enrolled in the Spring 2012 Scientific Communications (RSM 545) course.

Hada Herring
MPS – Marine Mammal Management
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UM Alum Hosts “Art by the Sea”

UM Students

This month, UM alum, and founder of the Big Blue & You Foundation, Daniell Washington, hosted “Art by the Sea” on historic Virginia Key Beach Park. This annual event is designed to use various art forms to inspire youth to spread their message about environmental and marine conservation throughout the community.

A few current UM undergrad and grad students helped staff the F.I.N. Sea Foundation‘s education booths, which included a squid dissection and a plankton/microscope station.

UM Students Helping at "Art by the Sea"

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Ocean Kids Continues to Turn the Tides Toward the Future!

This year’s Ocean Kids sped by, leaving 200 elementary school students with inspired looks upon their faces, along with surprise filled goody bags on their arms.

Kids peer intently into microscopes at the "Marine World Magnified" station, uncovering facts about the Dominican Republic. Photo by Monica Herndon.

The three speakers at the event: University of Miami‘s President,  Dr. Donna E. Shalala, RSMAS‘s very own Dean Ronni Avissar, and Daniell Washington, the founder of the Big Blue and You Foundation, encouraged the young explorers to continue their studies so that maybe one day they could be in the volunteers’ positions. In addition, the station rotation ran smoothly, considering the students could not wait to see what came next on their journey. It was evident that much was learned that Saturday, after hearing the kids answers to the Ocean Kids trivia. As always, the fun continued into the final dance party, where newly formed friendships between station educators and children could be seen on the dance floor. Overall, this year’s event was a success, thanks to all supporters and those involved.

-Melanie Jackson

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