Students from the Segundo Ruiz Belvis High School in Hormigueros, led by their teacher Ms. Ángela del Toro, visited Playita Rosada in Lajas, Puerto Rico, on Wednesday, October 24th, 2018. During their visit, students attended several stations we set up, each focusing on one aspect of the local ecosystems: mangroves, sand composition, marine invertebrates, meteorology and lionfish. Students were able to study different types of sand and determined each sample’s composition by observing the samples under a field microscope. They also performed meteorological measurements and made their own weather forecasts. Elsewhere, they walked on a trail around the local mangroves to personally view the 4 kinds of mangrove we have in Puerto Rico and their characteristics. In this station, they collected and filled out a leaf sample sheet to help them examine more closely each mangrove’s distinguishing features. They were able to observe firsthand how the trees are ordered according to their proximity to the water and acknowledged the mangrove forest ecosystems and their importance to our archipelago. However, as is often the case, it was the marine invertebrate station that truly captured the students. During the field trip, the students could handle and closely observe several organisms and learn about the fundamental functions each animal serves in its environment. Lastly, they learned about lionfish, an invasive species found in our waters, which is causing serious harm to our local organisms and ecosystems. The students showed great interest in all the topics presented to them and were happy to have been able to enjoy a day of education while at the beach. We wish them the best of luck!

By Delmis del C. Alicea Segarra, EdD
Photo credits: Efra Figueroa
Translated by Wilmarie Cruz Franceschi, MA

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