On Friday, April 27th, 2018, a group of students from the Luis Negrón López High School in Sabana Grande, along with their professors, had the chance to visit Playita Rosada, in La Parguera, Lajas, Puerto Rico. There, Sea Grant Program educators showed them the marine and coastal ecosystems that inhabit the area and the importance of conserving them. Students rotated across several stations regarding mangrove trees, seagrass beds and algae, marine invertebrates, sand composition, and meteorology. They walked within the mangrove forests to see up close the 4 mangrove tree species found in our archipelago and define their characteristics. They collected leaves from these trees found on the ground and made a sample sheet that helped them recognize each mangrove tree by its leaf.
Then, they observed and carefully manipulated several invertebrate organisms. In this station, they learned about their anatomy, their function within the ecosystem, and the interdependence between the organisms and their ecosystem. They also learned the difference between seagrasses and algae (seaweed). Sand is another important element in our beaches. During this fieldtrip, participants studied the origin of sand, what sand is made of, and they analyzed several sand samples collected from various beaches in Puerto Rico, including Playita Rosada. The students examined the sand samples through a field microscope which allowed them to identify the organic material among the grains of sand.
Finally, at the meteorology station, students observed clouds and measured different weather parameters such as temperature, atmospheric pressure, relative humidity, wind speed, and others. They learned the meaning of these factors and how they fit in with marine and coastal ecosystems. It was a very rewarding experience for them; they were very attentive and actively participated in the activities we offered them. It was an excellent group, and we hope they continue to strive for the bright future ahead of them. Good luck!