Exploring the Local Marine Ecology

On November 14, Ross Upper School students taking the fall elective titled “Introduction to Marine Ecology and Global Conservation Issues” embarked on a field trip to a salt marsh near Accabonac Harbor, accompanied by science teacher Rachel Gruzen and Paul Flagg, marine science instructor and program coordinator. The class visited the home and property of local environmentalist Edwina Von Gal, where they were able to hike through the marsh to the water’s edge. 

Students engaged in a variety of field activities, including observing animal tracks, spotting wild birds, and working with shellfish harvested from the harbor. Students also used artifacts in the landscape to piece together the history of the salt marsh from both an ecological and cultural perspective. Afterward, Ms. Von Gal spoke with the class about her restorative, nontoxic landscaping practices, expounding on the importance of biodiversity over monoculture lawns and the value of “celebrating life in our landscapes.”

The excursion was a culminating activity for the elective course, which focuses on biological productivity in marine systems; the diversity of life; the ecological, cultural, and economic value of natural resources; and the interconnectivity of marine system health and human quality of life. This course is the first in a series of three that connects with the new Marine Science program being initiated this year by Innovation Lab @Ross. In the winter and spring trimesters, students will acquire in-depth training in marine biology, oceanography, and scientific data collection, and will begin work on independent marine science research projects.