Students from two area high schools went on a trip on the Blue Sea recently to explore the ocean environment. Students from the Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST), located on Sandy Hook, introduced students from CLASS Academy, Neptune, to the local ocean environment from onboard the school’s vessel, the Blue Sea. CLASS Academy is an alternative high school for at-risk students. Both schools are part of the Monmouth County Vocational School District. A Green Grant from the National Education Association funded the day’s activities.
The MAST students demonstrated testing water chemistry, salinity, surface and bottom temperatures, dissolved oxygen and visibility. The students netted sea robins, weakfish, moonfish, and crabs in the trawl. Most of the fish were returned to the sea, while a few were taken back to CLASS Academy’s fish tanks for more observation.
Students from MAST had fun teaching the CLASS students the “fish dance.” John Elfers, a teacher at CLASS Academy, recognized that this was more than a one-day event. “We are forging a relationship that benefits students from both schools,” he said. “The lessons from today will last for some time in the classroom.”
Patrick Witterschein, a Marine Academy student from Fair Haven, was glad to have help with his senior research project from Class Academy students Brennan Koechlin of Oceanport, Rahzier Garay and Jarred Boynton both from Red Bank. Pat’s project is Fish Stock Assessment of Sandy Hook and Raritan Bays, where all marine organisms caught in an otter trawl net are measured and identified and returned to the sea. Pat will then send the data to the state of New Jersey, as MAST provides the state with scientific sampling information on both water quality and fish stocks in the local waters. The water was still warm enough to contain two tropical species, an Atlantic moonfish and inshore lizard fish. Both were taken back to the classroom for observation..