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My main blog is still Sweetness and Light.

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I hope you’ll visit me there and thanks for stopping by today!



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Project Week (7) ~ Orcas!

Violet chose to do a study of Orca whales that are native in our Pacific waters and did a marvelous job compiling information and sharing it with us all!! She even enlisted her littlest brother as her presentation assistant, a role he took very seriously ๐Ÿ˜‰


Her goal was to research and discover information about the J-Pod who are the Southern residents of Puget Sound. What she discovered was exciting and has prompted her to want to go whale watching at our earliest convenience (yeah, me too!! Hopefully soon). She shared information about the population diversity of the pod:


Birth and death statistics over tha past 11 years or so:


The routes which they travel in and around the San Juan Islands and the Puget Sound:


And probably the most interesting and unique information was about how the orcas are classified and identified ~ by their "Saddle patches" behind their dorsal fins: (Here she is showing her trusty assistant so he can show the audience:)


They eagerly awaited their viewing:


She did a fantastic job compiling her work and presenting it to us, and what a fun study to boot!!

She also finished up her lab report today, the first one ever for her, and is very proud of her efforts and discoveries! Thank you Theresa for making this such a fun and exciting year of Marine Biologly and Oceanography, we are enthralled!! 



Algae Day!

We finally made it out to collect seaweed specimens on a very windy afternoon late last week! Here are some samples of what we found, sadly no red algae, but a few different green and brown!

Notice our teeny collection bucket, it's the ONLY bucket we could find, sigh…

Algae specimens
Here are the close-ups of each sample:

Rockweed (Fucus gardneri or Fucus distichus) aka  – Bladderwrack ~ Brown Algae (Violet and I have affectionately named these the "dutchman's breeches" of seaweed ๐Ÿ™‚


Sea Lettuce (Ulva fenestrata) – very bright green algae which upon observation under the microscope we saw some plankton zipping around, it was SO COOL as we did not observe a single bit of plankton on our sea water collection day a few weeks ago. It's possible that is was an Arrowworm or a Copepod, but it was SO tiny and our microscope isn't as strong as I thought it was, hmm. Need to look in to one of those snazzy dissection scopes that Theresa and SB are using!!
 Sea lettuce

A very blurry picture of our Sargassum (Sargassum muticum). This Pacific coast version was apparently introduced accidentally in the 1930's from Japan.


We also found some seagrass, not sure exactly what kind, if eel-grass, surf-grass or what?? It did however have a very detailed cellular structure!


Violet did some nice sketches of our finds ~ (sorry this one is blurry too, need to work on my camera skills, ahem)

Violet seaweed sketches 
We noticed this sign upon leaving (surprised that we didn't spot it when we arrived, but it was so windy, we all kind of just bee-lined to the beach). This is not uncommon on our beaches at different times of the year, sadly ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Beach warning
We're on to Ocean temperatures and ocean motion…then week 6, Marine plants, light and color!


Experimentation ~ Density, Salintity & Saturation

We were finally able to perform the density tests with a saturated solution from this fun site!

Saturating w salt Mixing Still mixing

Transforming into ocean water Still pouring 

 Separation of the two waters  

A few more drops of red Medium salinty test Everyone is intrigued by the red on top of the water 

Three separated waters In to the light

This was an interesting test as it appeared at first that not much would happen, but the children were pleasantly surprised to see the separation of water solutions, especially with the medium red solution at the end of the test!

Here are Matthias' and Violet's lab notes and diagrams:

M.s&d test 

V.s&d test 

And her diagrams –

V.s&d diagrams 

This was a very basic test, but also very telling of what happens when you increase the amount of salt in water! They all made similar predictions as to what would occur and were happy with their results!

Now we're off to work on our pH tests… 




Diving Right In!

Even though we meandered down the "starting a new school year" path a couple of week's ago, we purposely lingered back waiting for our fearless leader in this Marine Biology and Oceanography escapade!


Our fieldwork is going to look different in many aspects of this great study for the main reason that we're on opposite coastlines with very different temperatures than our Floridian friends!! We're hoping to get a chunk of good beachcombing time in early this fall as our winter season may prohibit alot of the real-time beach fieldwork, but we're optomistic and jumping in!

Violet's work will be the main work shared here this year, but Matthias will most likely have some wonderful things to share as well as the younger boys as they join us in this adventure

Here is the beginning's of her Notebook from Week 1, Day 1:

She created her wave diagrams, and ocean zonation charts along with her summary paragraphs and a delightfully color-coded ocean currents of the world.


Ocean zones

Ocean currents

Sorry for the really bad lighting, it was evening in the schoolroom and it gave me this interesting gold hue. Anyway, you get the idea of how we began.

Will update more soon…