Students test waters at FGCU marine camp
Students from Lee and Collier counties are learning how problems like red tide can hurt marine life during a week-long camp at Florida Gulf Coast University.
“We were netting up some creatures … fish, sand dollars, and we found little scallops,” said Kassandra Horseten, a sixth grader at The Village School.
They might not look like your typical marine scientists, but these middle school students are using professional equipment and procedures to conduct water studies in Lover’s Key.
Ann Smiley, a master’s student with FGCU’s environmental science program, created the camp at the University’s Vester Marine Lab.
“We integrated things like nutrient runoff and how that affects algae blooms and how that impacts the rest of the ecosystem,” Smiley said.
As students learn the impact of red tide and algae on marine ecosystems, these may be the very hands that form the future of marine life in Southwest Florida.
“It will affect everything with any chain. everything matters! One thing is taken away, the whole thing goes down,” said Sebastian Castillo, an eighth grade student at Bonita Springs Charter School.
This is the first year the university’s marine lab hosted the science camp. They hope to hold many more in the years to come.