20 July 2018

SciGirls II Day 5, St. Andrews State Park and Gulf World

SciGirls 2 campers enjoyed their Gulf World experienceSciGirls 2 campers enjoyed their Gulf World experience

What a fantastic beach, marine, dolphin tail spinning day! Today, SciGirls 2 spent the day in Panama City! We started the day at St. Andrews State Park, and ended the day at Gulf World! Upon arrival at St. Andrews State Park, we did a nature hike, led by David Morris, Park Services Specialist, and Morgan Powell, Americorp and Non-Native Plant Specialist. We hiked Pine Flatwoods Trail, and along the way Morgan told us all about the plant communities, while David showed us all the old dunes. There were fresh water marshes, as well as sea marshes along the way, and we saw a dolphin! We encountered many native plants, such as Yopon Holly, Smooth and Saw Palmettos, Rosemary, Wax Myrtle, Button Bush, Dog Fennel, Woody Golden Rod, Scrub Oak. Some of these were quite tasty, some were spicy, and many of them are used in making different types of tea! We also saw some invasive plants, such as torpedo grass and popcorn pine. Morgan was explaining how he will spend some time today to try to cut out these invasives, but they are very hard to completely get rid of. Afterwards, we met with Leann Hinson, Assistant Park Ranger Manager. She discussed how she got involved in being a ranger and her day to day duties as a ranger. We then took a tram ride to Gator Lake (where we saw an alligator!) and to the Jetty to get a bit of “sand in our toes” time! Then, it was off to Gulf World we went! Upon arrival, we split up into smaller groups, and all got to enjoy a variety of marine animals, encounters, and time with marine professionals! We participated in a meet and greet with dolphins, where each girl got to kiss, shake, and play with the dolphins! We also took the opportunity to ask a bunch of questions to the dolphin trainers about how they learned to train, and how the dolphins learn! In addition to the meet and greet, we saw a variety of shows about cockatoos, African Grey parrots, sea lions, rough toothed dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, even alligators! 2 of our SciGirls got picked to go on stage! Aida got to practice training a parakeet, Maggie, and Ellen got kissed by a sea lion, Cooper! All of the animals at Gulf World are either rescued, donated, or born at Gulf World. Towards the end of our day, we met with Lauren Albrittain. She has a BS in Marine Science and a minor in Environmental Science. She is the Stranding Coordinator for Gulf World Marine Institute. She led a question and answer session about marine animal rescue and rehabilitation. Our girls got a special behind the scenes look at the sea turtle rescue area, where Lauren told us about each turtle. Several turtles were remaining from the 1200 turtles that were rescued during the two cold spells in northern Florida this winter. All in all, it was a splashtacular day!

Last modified on 23 July 2018