EPA Administrator Visits the Marine Science Floating Laboratory

The Port of Los Angeles welcomed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson as part of her visit to Los Angeles to celebrate Earth Day and commemorate the 40th anniversary of the EPA's Clean Water Act. During her visit to the Port, she observed fifth-grade students aboard a "floating environmental science lab," a boat tour program facilitated by the Think Watershed Partnership and sponsored by the Port.

Students from Hawaiian Avenue Elementary School in nearby Wilmington were eager to participate in the floating lab, operated by the Los Angeles County Office of Education through its Outdoor and Marine Science Field Studies program. The enthusiastic students tackled hands-on, marine-science learning activities, including a plankton lab, water visibility testing, bottom sediment study, fish morphology, and wildlife observation. Through this style of hands-on education, students are able to see how human behavior affects the quality of water, air, habitat, animal life, plant life, and human life in the marine environment and in their own communities.

Round Stingray on the Marine Science Floating Laboratory

The Floating Lab has, as one of its hands-on activities, a trawl of the bottom of a small section of the harbor. The otter trawl is towed behind the boat as it slowly cruises along. Two boards, called otter boards, keep the mouth of the net open to capture organisms that live on or near the bottom of the ocean bottom. Organisms are funneled toward the back of the net by large "wings" of the net. 

One of the organisms captured was a Round Ray (Urobatis halleri), sometimes called Round Stingray.  This short video shows the ray being released back into the ocean (as are most all other organism captured). Notice it's size. 

Here's something to think about. Find out abut the Round Ray. These are a kind of fish. What kind of "skeleton" does it have? Click to start learning about the Round Stingrays. What other kinds of fishes are in the same large class? What feature makes them unique?