A band of children, dressed in beachwear and armed with buckets, eagerly marched across the beach in Pass Christian Wednesday. With help from the Department of Marine Resources, the youngsters invaded an estuary to uncover what lies beneath the water's surface.
Jennifer Buchanan is an instructor with the DMR.
"We had the kids out here as part a reading program to encourage them to go out into the marsh, discover what they're finding, and then know how to use books to identify what they're finding out here."
One boy yelled, "Look what I got!"
Another boy screamed, "I found another one!"
14 year old Stephen Allard said, "I caught some shrimp and some minnows, and I saw a bunch of people that caught some crabs."
10 year old Cameron James bragged, "I caught crabs, fish, shrimp and some minnows."
Getting up close and personal with marine life was a big thrill for many of the youngsters.
"It's fun and sometimes if you catch something really, really cool, you get excited," Cameron said.
Catching the critters was just part of the environmental lesson. The kids also learned that sometimes it's important to release their catch back into the wild. The goal was to encourage children to become protectors of plants and animals that share their world.
"Many of the creatures that live out here are susceptible to pollution and stuff and we need to keep the waters clean," Stephen said.
"If they learn it when they're young, they won't throw the pollution out, the trash out, and they'll help protect the wetlands," Buchanan said.
The children ranged in age from two to 14. They are enrolled in the summer reading program at the Pass Christian Children's Library. This was the second year the library has hosted the environmental field trip.