Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Down By The Bay

On Tuesday, we went on our field trip with 2H to the Great Bay Discovery Center

Great Bay is an estuary, which means it is a combination of salt water from the ocean and fresh water from the rivers. Lots of different animals live in and around Great Bay, including horseshoe crabs, flounder, oysters, mussels, soft shell clams, green crabs, mud snails, great blue herons, osprey, turkeys, porcupines, river otters, muskrats, rabbits, and white tailed deer.

inside of the discovery center, we learned lots and lots about horseshoe crabs! Here are a few of the many facts we learned:
  • Horseshoe crabs can lay up to 80,000 eggs and they are each the size of a pencil point
  • Female horseshoe crabs are larger than male horseshoe crabs, but males have bigger claws
  • Horseshoe crabs have been around since before the dinosaurs came into existence!
  • Horseshoe crabs can live for up to 20 years and they get darker in color as they get older
  • Horseshoe crabs use their spear-like tail to help them flip themselves over if they get turned onto their backs
  • Horseshoe crabs have blue blood, which scientists can collect and use for research as well as to check medical tools for bacteria

After spending some time in the discovery center, we walked out onto the brand-new boardwalks that were completed in April! We were able to use our great detective skills as well as our "track phones" to figure out all of the animals who left their footprints behind on the boardwalk! 

Turkey Prints

Porcupine Prints

We learned that the white-tailed deer population is at an all-time high because wolves are no longer in NH, so they have no other natural predators. 

We spotted some osprey on the trees and in their nest! There is one osprey on the tree all the way to the left and their nest is in between the two pine trees on the right. 

We got to get a close look at the nest through the brand-new viewer that was added to the boardwalk, and we were actually the first to discover that the osprey eggs had hatched when we spotted the babies in the nest next to their mother! Their dad was on the trees scouting for food in the bay-- he uses his amazing eyesight, speed, and talons to catch fish to bring back to the mom and babies.

This tree reminded us of the Curvy Tree in The Land of Stories!

We learned that otters are carnivores, as they eat only meat

Porcupines are herbivores because they only eat plants

Turkeys are omnivores because they eat both plants and animals, just like many of us!

After leaving the boardwalk, we went down to the shore to look for some of the animals we had learned about. We spotted soft shelled clams, mussels, oysters, mud snails, mud worms, sea lettuce, and we also got to watch a great blue heron catching his breakfast! 

We made our final stop at the Great Bay Cafe, where we learned how to make estuary soup! 

Estuary Soup is essential for the Great Bay food chain. Animals like oysters, mud worms, mussels, and clams rely on the estuary soup for their food, who are then eaten by crabs, and lobsters, who then get eaten by bass and flounder, who finally get eaten by birds like the osprey

We had an amazing time on our trip, and we learned so many awesome new facts down by the bay! Thank you very much to our amazing docents who led us on our exploration. Great Bay Discovery Center is a wonderful place to visit with your family, you can check out their calendar of events here

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