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  • Alex Qin

Tide Pool Session

Stevenson was known for its magnificent location next to the shoreline situated in Pebble Beach. The geographic advantage allowed the science department to extend marine science into actual investigations physically.

China Rock is a famous site on the 17-mile drive. At specific times during the day, visitors can spot hundreds and thousands of diverse marine species in the shallow waters covered by rocks. Mr. Provost from the science department now teaches the course marine science with support from this location.

Since China Rock is only minutes away from driving down the road from the school, the class had convenient access during the day and spent a good 50 minutes discovering the place. The group would first check the low tide periods of the upcoming days and decide when to go. After arriving at the shore, students would disperse into the rocks, taking closer observations and photos of species they found.

Science teacher Ron Provost, the host of the session and teacher of the course, explained, “I have been tide pooling with students for 24 years at Stevenson. It started with my first Biology classes and AP Environmental Science classes. Since I began teaching an elective in Marine Science we have been tide pooling in the area around Point Joe. The tide pools are a place where you can discover incredible biological diversity. Some phyla of organisms that I did not learn much about until I was an upper-level college student can be found regularly in Monterey's tidepools. It is truly "the greatest meeting of land and sea".

Expanding the scope of the course’s academic research area, he stated that “The China Rock location is one that I started using for class after talking with some surfers on the faculty. There is an offshore reef that allows for the location, which is greatly exposed at low tide, to be protected from sneaker waves as they break on the reef. As a habitat, it exemplifies the exposed outer shore habitat that Ed Ricketts describes as the most diverse. It also has important local cultural history and I like to make sure that my students understand the cultural history of the place we live. Just this past year researchers from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography mapped the bottom of China Point and I hope to be able to use that data in future classes.

Over the past decade, we have used the app iNaturalist to catalog the organisms we have found there. The data can be used by scientists to look at the distribution of species around the world. I like that as our students learn about the local ocean they are also contributing to a long-term data set. It also allows us to have a long-term record of ‘our spot’ along the coast. We have seen over 250 unique species and made almost 5000 unique observations.” iNaturalist is a website where scientists and wildlife amateurs gather to post, share, and comment on their discoveries of different species in nearby environments. Together a global map that consists of millions of different species was established.

Provost discussed his most memorable experience of his “tide pool career”: “It was a tide pool trip where we found an octopus stranded by the low tide. Octopuses are the most intelligent and dangerous animals in the tide pools. When frightened they have a nasty bite, but they also possess the intelligence equivalent to a lower primate. With my class we provided the octopus with water to re-wet its gills — so it could breathe — and carefully transferred it back into a tide pool. One of the people on the trip made a video of the rescue and sent it to me and I posted it on Instagram. It was liked and commented on by the Monterey Bay Aquarium noting that it was great instruction on how not to handle an octopus. It was my 15 seconds of Insta-fame.”

Junior David Hong is blown away by the diversity of the tide tool: “I saw a lot of living sea creatures in the bay. I was able to walk on the rocks in the ocean filled with small ponds where organisms are abundant.”

With such enthusiasm from both students and staff running the sessions, it is apparent that this exclusive legacy of tide pool sessions will be passed on for many years.


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