DEER ISLAND, MS (WLOX) - Ten Sea Campers boarded a pontoon boat at the Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs Monday morning. They were getting ready for a treasure hunt on Deer Island. The treasures they were looking for are considered priceless and critical.
"We're teaching the kids about unique animals here in the Gulf that are endangered, that they need to learn to preserve," said Sea Camp Director Summer Rohe.
As they patrolled the water's edge, the children came face-to-face with some familiar critters.
"Anybody know what kind of crab this is?" the instructor asked the children.
They also picked up some fascinating facts about marine life.
"This was drilled in by another snail, who ate him," the instructor said as she held up a shell.
The search took on an interesting twist when the children used a seine net to collect samples of the creatures that live beneath the water's surface.
"You're sampling the entire column with this net," the instructor told the group.
The first drag netted a small catch.
"Those are anchovies," the instructor said.
"You got sea snot," one boy shouted.
"You know the sea snot that you're talking about? It's actually called a cone jelly," the instructor explained.
Another group of children tried their hands at using the large net, and they pulled up a fish bonanza.
"Lots of Menhaden!" the instructor shouted.
"We got a shrimp," a boy exclaimed.
"It's cool. I like being in the water. I think catching the little critters are cool," said 12-year-old Matt Thies.
"There were so many small fish. I got to hold them," said 13-year-old Stephanie Carter. "I am very excited because I love endangered species so much."
The final sampling involved using Yabbi Pumps to pull up invertebrates in the sand. The close encounters helped reinforce lessons about the marine life that thrive along the coast.
"It's important to know what kind of animals are in your environment. That's important to know what's here today and gone tomorrow," said Rohe.
Sea Camp is in its 24th year. More than 300 children, ages six to 13, are enrolled this summer. Six sessions are being offered through July. For more information, call (228) 818-8833 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.