My assignment for this afternoon was to help with the Soundside children’s program on Pea Island NWR. I was told to meet Cindy, a staff member, at the New Inlet pull out on the island. The west side of the island borders the Pamlico Sound, and the east side greets the Atlantic Ocean.
Pea Island is along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I guess it should now be called Pea Islands, as a result of the hurricane last August. That red arrow and X that I drew in indicates where the surge from the sound broke through the island breaking it in two. When I volunteered here five years ago, the RV pads were where that X is. Now, it’s gone, and a bridge had to be built for traffic to get from one side to the other to proceed down to Rodanthe and the town of Cape Hatteras. When I first saw it on Tuesday, I had a hard time taking that all in.
Anyway, when I got to New Inlet, I found out that Cindy was not coming, but Cody, an intern, was there instead. I let him know I was there to help. He asked me if I was comfortable talking about sea creatures found along the sound and outer banks. What? I grew up in Chicago, haven’t been on this coast for five years, and was a math major in college, not biology. Being flexible is a prerequisite for volunteering on Nat’l Wildlife Refuges, but…really?? My answer to him was, “I’ll listen to your presentation today, and then be ready to go next time.” Guess I’ll be boning up on the lifestyles of whelks, horseshoe crabs, clams, oysters, scallops, and skates, etc. Cody knew a lot about these things, and I hope they are now part of my short term memory base.
The next surprise came when he asked if I could help him with the skein net. What? (again) As far as I’d been told the kids would be using dip nets to gather creatures from the sea. I was not prepared to go wading above my knees in the sound. (I’m a skittish Midwest girl, and don’t do the barefoot thing)
Cody was able to find a willing father with sandals on and some willing kids to help him do the net thing. The kids on shore couldn’t wait to see what was in the net, and jumped in to pick through the seaweed immediately for treasures.
That’s Cody on the right bending down to help a youngster identify what they found in the net. I could identify the shrimp and crabs, but I learned about lizard fish, and didn’t quite find out what a tiny eel-like thing was. I’ll have to ask someone before I ever run this program on my own. I surely wasn’t much help today.
The seine net was taken out several times, and each time both kids and parents swarmed in to see what the catch was. There were also several young folks using the dip nets to search for wild treasures. Now that I’ve been through this once, I think I could handle it on my own, but I’ll be sure to bring my water shoes with me!
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy
P.S. I have to relearn something also. Do you know what a starfish is? Yah, well now it’s called a Sea Star. I’m sure I’ll stumble over that one. Old habits are hard to break!