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‘Beach Bums’ hit the shore

By Staff | Jul 7, 2010

Nine-year-old C.J. Davis was excited to see a live bull shark in summer camp this week.
Davis, 9, is enrolled in Beach Bums Exploration at the Cape Coral Yacht Club. The camp, which offers students the opportunity to learn about beach ecology, marine life and the ocean environment, has hosted five sessions since June 21.
And Davis has enrolled in two of these sessions.
“I like sharks,” he said. “My favorite is the hammerhead or mako. They jump out of the water to catch prey.”
Campers spend half the day in a number of activities near the water at the Yacht Club, and the rest of the day in a classroom studying what they just saw. This week’s eight campers were standing on the pier when a fisherman caught multiple bull sharks, and even held one up for them to see.
Susie Hassett, a science teacher from Dr. Carrie Robinson Littleton Elementary, said the campers started with oceanography, but they also study waves, currents and water salinity.
Besides teaching science in Lee County, Hassett is a scuba diver and trains Volunteer Scientific Research divers to collect data for researchers.
On Wednesday morning the campers used pantihose to manufacture makeshift seine nets for catching fish, except their version of the seine net collected plankton from the water. They later brought the plankton into the classroom and examined each specimen under a microscope.
Recently, the campers also discussed the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“We talked about the oil spill to find what methods could get oil out of the water,” said Hassett.
She used vegetable oil died black to demonstrate what is happening in the Gulf. The oil was dropped into a large bucket of water and the students watched it float to the bottom.
“If it is in your sink it washes away, but if it’s in the Gulf it drops to the bottom,” she said.
The campers are also rehearsing a puppet show for parents and friends with the message of “conserving the environment.” Each child will represent a different form of marine life using a puppet.
Trevor Gallagher, 14, attended the camp because he aspires to be a marine biologist. He will attend Riverdale High in the fall to study zoology.
“I like the hands on stuff and looking at the different sea creatures,” he said.
Gallagher brought two of his own land hermit crabs to share with the other campers and, during the classroom portion of the day, they observed and touched the crabs as they crawled around in a small terrarium.
Hassett said the camp is hosting an event this weekend to learn about the ocean. On Saturday at 9 a.m. the Beach Bum Exploration camp is inviting current and former campers, as well as the general public, to survey the marine life at Bunche Beach.
For more information on the Beach Bums Exploration, call 574-0806.