Set sail on Drayton Harbor in pursuit of knowledge

Published on Thu, Sep 13, 2012 by Carissa Wright

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Scientific happenings are afloat in Drayton Harbor, and area adults and children alike are invited to partake in the wonder.

Once again participating in Whatcom Water Week, the Drayton Harbor Maritime association (DHM) will take curious area residents out on the harbor in the historic Plover ferry for a morning of water sampling and testing, plankton catching and identifying, and (if the weather holds) a good bit of sun.

The cruise will take place Tuesday, September 18 from 10 a.m. to noon. DHM founding director Richard Sturgill, who also captains the Plover, expects the group to be out for about an hour.

Out on the water, biologist Janet Pickard will lead the group in taking water samples and towing a fine-mesh trawl behind the boat to scoop up whatever organisms there are to be found (according to Pickard, mostly zooplankton and phytoplankton). The group will then return to shore, and spend another hour testing the water samples for salinity and oxygen levels, and identify whatever critters are netted by the trawl. 

“They’re quite beautiful,” Pickard said of the various types of plankton. 

Pickard and Sturgill both said a highlight of last year’s event was seeing the younger participants looking through the microscopes and refractometers, discovering the wonder of what’s just under the surface of the water. Both hope to see curious children again this year. Sturgill said that while the event’s date and time might not work for many children, the outing would be a wonderful experience for home-schooled students.

There are 20 spots for passengers on the Plover, which will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. More are welcome to join the fun at the outdoor lab located at the Blaine Boating Center. 

Reserve a spot by contacting Sturgill at 332-5742, or just meet the group at Blaine Marina’s Gate 2 just before 10 a.m. on Tuesday.