Isn’t it your summer dream to go on adventures in a school bus packed with science geeks in the hundred-degree-heat of the day?
We didn’t think so. But we enjoyed it! This week, we were a part of the Sturgeon City Science Institutes for its 20th anniversary. Each day, we conducted research on several different habitats throughout Onslow County. We visited the Sturgeon City Salt Marsh, the Maritime Forest, the land application plant, the Intracoastal Waterway, and the Onslow Beach. While investigating these various habitats, we learned about the structure and biotic life of them.
LAND APPLICATION FOREST AND MARITIME FOREST June 18th and June 19th
The Maritime Forest is located in between the Intracoastal Waterway and Onslow Beach. This led to the soil being sandy and porous. The trees in that area were short and close together, which protected them from the strong winds and the harsh climate that comes from being near the ocean. Opposite of that was the land application forest, where the trees were spread out and tall. The soil had a sandy-loam texture, which allowed the trees to thrive. Plentiful vegetation abounded in this habitat, featuring lob-lolly pine, red oak, and wax myrtle. Our city has produced a 6000-acre thriving habitat versus discharging treated waste water into Wilson Bay.
THE LILY POND- June 18th
Situated within the lob-lolly pine forest, we put on our waders and trudged forward into this freshwater ecosystem. Lob-lolly trees emit tannic acid, affecting the pH of the water by increasing the acidity. The water quality in this habitat was fair, and we saw various forms of wildlife (mainly insects).
THE INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY- June 19th
We can verify that 100% of the Earth group members got stuck in the Intracoastal Waterway’s monstrous mud! The water was brackish, and boasted good water quality while hosting a variety of biotic features: mud snails, pin-fish, shrimp, blue crabs, and many more. The animals there have to survive in an environment that constantly changes in water level.
THE ONSLOW BEACH- June 19th
At the beach, we learned about the different sections from above the tide line to below the tide line. In the saltwater environment, we sifted through multiple sand samples. While there was not evidence of marine life in the harsh environment above the tide line, but we found coquina clams, sharks’ teeth, mole crabs, sand fiddlers, and sea urchin spines below the tide line.
P.S. $150 reward for Leona’s glasses as an invasive organism in the Atlantic Ocean.
STURGEON CITY SALT MARSH- June 20th and June 21st
While wading in the wondrous waters of the Salt Marsh, we noticed specific aspects that contributed to this habitat. The fact that it was near a former wastewater treatment plant has been the major factor affecting the health of the location. We found that this area was very humid, muddy and odorous. In addition, it was surrounded by spartina which was planted to rehabilitate the area by filtering contaminates in the water from years of pollution. Other plant species included morning glories, wax myrtle, and cattails. Throughout years of human-environmental interaction, the animal life has migrated into the marsh grasses to hide. Some organisms consisted of juvenile bullhead catfish, gambusia, and water spiders. The Salt Marsh, according to our research, has come a long way from where it began.
Of all the aquatic environments we explored, our very own Sturgeon City had the best overall water quality. This can be attributed to the dedication of the city of Jacksonville, our community, and the contributions of youth through twenty years of the Sturgeon City Science Institutes.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
― Dr. Seuss,
We speak for the trees. Will you?