Thursday, January 20, 2011

Madrona Marsh

(by Carly)

This week we went to the Madrona Marsh in Torrance. We started off in the lab where we looked at tons of different things through through microscopes. Bob directed and taught us about crustaceans, shrimps, and other living creatures and artifacts. We each used a compound microscope and dissecting scope. First, Bob showed us water from the marsh on the TV. Then he showed us black ants; little black "invading" ants have come all the way from Argentina! They are very hearty ants and are wiping out all the other ant species, unfortunately. They roost in trees.

So we looked at those, and then some yummy gnat larvae. We looked at bacteria, dragonfly larvae, algae and other creatures from the marsh water too. Nate found a "Mayfly" in his petri dish of water, which is very rare (according to Bob). Bob said he might inform the museum of science about it! We also looked at feathers, and the prongs that lock the feather strands in place. That was cool to see! Besides those things, we saw a sycamore leaf under the scope, which have furry stick-looking things protruding from them. And petrified dinosaur dung. Looking through the microscopes in the lab was a fun and educational experience!

Then the next thing we did was walk through the nature center exhibit with our next tour guide; Bill. He was very informative as well. He explained why we have an afternoon coastal breeze, and how it comes in off the sea and onto the land is because land cools down faster than water does, and heats up faster too. And what does heat do? It rises. So when the land heats up, the warm air rises and the cool air off the ocean gets sucked in and pulled over the land. I also thought it was interesting that you can tell a Snowy egret apart from a Great egret by their opposite colors. Great Egrets have an orange beak and black feet, whereas a Snowy Egret has a black beak and orange feet! And...gophers dig their nests for their babies deep under the ground (in their maze underground) because gopher snakes can't get that deep underground--they can't slither backwards out of the hole.

On the walk through the marsh, we saw California poppies. They are generally more yellow on the west coast, and orange in colder climates. We also saw a plant called Mule Fat, which is what people in the olden days used to feed their mules and horses because it would fatten them up. And towards the end of the walk Allie spotted a Chorus frog which everyone held. It was a fun field trip!

Nate holding petrified dinosaur dung.

Allie holding the chorus frog she found.

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