Blaine fifth graders explore Drayton Harbor’s ecology

Blaine fifth graders found lots of marine life beneath the docks at Blaine Harbor during a May 11 field trip. Photos by Oliver Lazenby

By Oliver Lazenby

Students from Blaine Elementary School explored marine life in Drayton Harbor and participated in a science lab at the Blaine Harbor boathouse last week as part of the Gardens of the Salish Sea Curriculum.

The field trip is an annual event for fifth graders and part of a partnership between the school district, the Port of Bellingham, Gardens of the Salish Sea Curriculum and others. Gardens of the Salish Sea Curriculum is a Bellingham nonprofit that teaches students about ecology and environmental stewardship.

The organization started in 2012 and has worked with Blaine fifth graders every year since.

Students found a variety of marine life on a “dock walk” through Blaine Harbor, including sea slugs, moon jellies, barnacles and crabs.

Julie Hirsch, Gardens of the Salish Sea Curriculum director, taught students about how marine life in Drayton Harbor is affected by what students and other residents do on land. They focused on the effects of pet waste, faulty septic and sewer systems, stormwater runoff, and the various forms of pollution that can cause ocean acidification.

Kristin Nelson with Gardens of the Salish Sea Curriculum guides Blaine Elementary School fifth graders on a dock walk at Blaine Harbor.

For Hirsch, children are vital to the future of local marine ecosystems.

“From my perspective, outreach to kids is an important part of our environment,” Hirsch said. “I do see students as a means to access family and community.”

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