Getting to Know “the Neighbors” Below

Getting to Know “the Neighbors” Below

 My 11-year-old grandson, Lars, has been visiting Camp Casey for a number of years. He’s experienced a s’mores campfire by the sea, hiked in the mystical woods in search of owls, cavorted among the historic Army bunkers, photographed the resident deer, flown kites, beachcombed, and swum in the Casey pool. But as wonderful as all these experiences are, they have met their equal in the Beach Seine adventure he experienced in April.

Casey Site Manager Darrell Jacobsen and his team were warm, friendly, and accommodating. They took a motorboat off the beach and played out a long net in a horseshoe pattern. Once the net was in place, those of us left on shore grabbed onto ropes attached to both ends of the net and pulled it in. Lars was invited to jump into the fray and hauled away with all his might.

Once the net was gathered back to shore, we scrambled among the contents and dropped crabs, sea stars, shrimp, tiny sculpins, and some kind of eel-looking animal into buckets of sea water. Lars’ yelps of delight at catching the energetic ocean creatures were wonderful to hear. He’s in a marine biologist frame of mind right now and when he’s old enough would like to study the environmental sciences at SPU and its Blakely Island Field Station.

The sea creatures we caught were quickly installed back at Camp Casey in gurgling touch tanks housed in the Sea Lab building. Lars and I were shown the resident sea life and were able to observe how the recently arrived “neighbors” assimilated into their new surroundings. Lots of questions from Lars, all of which were patiently answered with good humor and interesting facts from the knowledgeable staff. He was especially attracted to the wolf eel lurking in the kelp. It was a fun time of discovery (and family bonding) that reinforced Lars’ desire to one day work to preserve ocean habitat.

By Clint Kelly