One month ago, a grade four class from Elsie Roy Elementary, championed by Ms. Sawyer, ventured over to Heather Civic Marina to participate in the Sentinels of Change Light Trap Project and became citizen scientists!
A Light Trap is a device used to collect and record larval invertebrates and fish. Specifically, the Light Trap’s primary purpose is to document megalopae, the last larval stage in the Dungeness crab, across many different stations in the Salish Sea. Every species collected in the light trap is an observed and uploaded to the Sentinels of Change Light Trap Monitoring INaturalist page.
Ms. Sawyer’s Class Visit!
During Ms. Sawyer’s class visit, the student became community scientists! The class was tasked with creating a hypothesis of what species they would find before checking the light trap. Predictions included salmon types, jellyfish, sea stars, and Dungeness megalopae.
Then, we went to check the light trap.
Our Volunteer Rebbeca took charge of leading the class through the process of checking the Light Trap. Rebecca pulled up the trap, carefully discarded the excess water, and placed the findings in an observation bucket for the class to view. Ms. Sawyers’s class was able to observe one unknown species in the light trap.
This small, yet essential discovery led to an important discussion with the grade four class about why finding minimal or no species in the Trap was just as important science as finding many species. The school group had excellent questioning skills, and the kids were fascinated by the prospect that their observation would help the scientists at the Hakai Institute document the abundance of Dungeness crabs within False Creek and across the Salish Sea.
Furthermore, a special surprise visit from the Vancouver Police Department Marine Unit made the event even more enjoyable! During the VPD visit, the class took turns on the police boat and learned about the importance of safeguarding the waterways within and around the Greater Vancouver Area.
After the field trip, the class engaged with Hakai’s interactive map, which records the extent and frequency of Dungeness megalopae at several locations across the Salish Sea. Therefore, this tool provided Ms. Sawyer with a way to conclude this activity and connect it back to marine conservation efforts across the west coast of British Columbia.
Reflecting on this event, the students who engaged and were eager to learn about the Light Trap Project were able to deepen their understanding, care and enjoyment of the marine environment around them.
The students were keen to learn about the Dungeness crab and the importance of documenting the larva stage for scientific research. Further, we hope these children take what they have learned home and continue to have these essential conversations about marine conservation and protection with their parents, families and friends.
We believe this story can add to the mosaic of marine conservation work within False Creek, acting to create a community of all ages invested in protecting the marine environment in and around the False Creek Area.