The Camp Casey Sea Lab aims to uncover the mystery of the depths by showcasing local marine life and educating guests on the importance of conservation.
In a previous blog, we ended with the walk up the hill from our beach seine experience, having had the chance to speak with a parent who was bringing his daughter, a 1st grade student from Coupeville Elementary, to the Sea Lab. What was unique to that conversation was that the parent had participated in the same experience during his own childhood. The Camp Casey Sea Lab aims to uncover the mystery of the depths by showcasing local marine life and educating guests on the importance of conservation. The lab features about a dozen aquariums that house fascinating sea creatures. As the Sea Lab instructor, Keith Ludeman’s goal is to encourage students to understand that a very important habitat exists in the ocean, even though they can’t see it. They also learn how their actions affect the beaches, oceans, and habitats of these animals.
As the class makes its way into the lab the noise level is almost overwhelming from the students’ excitement. Keith’s first display is the Blood Sea Star, pointing out that the stars have as many eyes as they have arms. His approach is to relate to kids based on their age. Older students would be taught the Latin terms for marine life, but in this case he teases by pointing with his finger to two spots on the sea star telling them that he’s picking the star’s nose. If he moves his finger, he’s wiping its backside. Squeals of laughter erupt from the class. Next up is a sea urchin. Walking up and down the aisle, he allows the kids a “hands on” experience and answers questions such as, “Where are their eyes?” The Hermit Crab is next lifted from the aquarium with a brief lesson on why crabs cannot be removed from the Sound and taken home as pets. He notes that the temperature of the Sound’s water is critical to keeping them alive.
As the sea cucumber is pulled out of the aquarium and squirts water, we notice fewer children are reaching out to touch. Keith gently teases a parent who refuses to put her hand out and now the kids are yelling in unison for her to touch it! Keith makes his way around the classroom and we notice the whiteboard has a question posted: “What’s it looks like?” and responses such as “smelly”, “juicy”, “plump”, “bumpy”, and “smooth”.
Finally we get to see Keith’s prized baby octopus, the same one he mentioned at the beach seine class!
The Sea Lab program at Camp Casey includes a one-hour class, limited to 35 students, with a lecture, tour of the Sea Lab aquariums, and time for questions and answers. The Sea Lab is only open in the spring, so space and reservations are limited. Apart from the Beach Seine and Sea Lab classes, Keith also provides an educational forest and meadow walk for guests at the Conference Center.