Gabrielino High School
USC Wrigley Marine Science Center
Monday, June 1, 2009
On the boat: Alice, Alice, and a stand-in for Ducky and Dot, our team members who couldn’t make it!
The two-and-a-half-hour ferry ride, on a white boat, gave us a great view of the metallic sea. The wind and spray in our faces was icy. Near the beginning of the trip, we sat at the bow of the boat, experienced the rocking waves, and got really cold.
We played a game in which we tried to remember everyone’s names and their favorite animal while going around the circle. We also got a tour of the institute buildings and were assigned dorms.
Before we jumped into the icy cold ocean, we struck a pose in our stifling, tight wetsuits. Mr. Winters was the Platypus. During snorkeling, we saw a lot of fish, such as bright orange Garibaldis.
Alice and Alice in the water!
During our hike we made many discoveries, including an adorable heart-shaped prickly pear cactus and the rattling seed pods of a lily. We also discovered many snail shells, small enough to fit in our hands. We looked at the seeds of many types of plants, like the wild cucumber. Vanessa, our guide, managed to pull the remains of bugs out of a spider’s web, like part of a beetle’s exoskeleton. We also tried to lure spiders out of their funnel-shaped webs.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Today, first thing after breakfast, we went kayaking! A lot of us struggled back into wetsuits, got kayaks, paddles, lifevests, and seats, learned how to set up our kayaks and got a paddling demonstration. Finally, we entered the water!
Alice and April begin to paddle through a cave! We also rounded Bird Rock, a tiny island offshore, covered with white bird poop, where all kinds of birds roost. We saw pelicans and even a seal sliding off into the water.
During the touch tank activity, we talked about the classifications of the various animals inside the tanks, such as Echinodermata and Mollusca. We held squishy, dark purple sea hares and examined a horned shark, a kelp crab and kelp fish, sea stars, and many other animals.
The sun finally emerged while we were at the touch tanks, and we briefly abandoned what we were doing to run out from under the shade and soak it in. The rest of the day stayed sunny. Lorainne gave us a lecture about sea life with lots of photos of interesting animals.
Alice is putting the finishing touches on her beautiful fish-print shirt. Her shirt can’t be complete until she finishes decorating the letters of “Catalina 2009.”
Fish printing was super duper fun! Alex was really funny when she explained to us how the Japanese used the method to record the fishes that were caught. Then, they turned it into art and it is the most amazing and aesthetic form of art. We used fabric paint, brushes, and rubber molds of all kinds of fishes to print on cloth.
We headed over to the lab to dissect fish and holdfast.
Kathleen holds up her rockfish, torn to pieces, for the camera. The rockfish’s tiny sharp teeth are poking Kathleen as the camera stares down the rockfish’s throat.
April is holding April and Alice’s disgustingly old fish, a fat, bottom-feeding tilapia with tiny teeth. We got to see the mushy insides, as well as the less-decayed parts of other teams’ fish, and we checked out the eggs, scales, and sperm of different fish under a microscope. Then, we got some holdfast to dissect, and found lots of tiny, fast-moving organisms living in the tangled stems to look at under the microscope.
After dinner, we played volleyball and we all learned how to serve. Of course, we all sucked at it initially and the middle school kid, Kent, was just shaming us all. Then, we got better and the team that Kathleen, April, and Alice T. (we were called Team Crustacean) were on won!
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
We went kayaking to the isthmus today and along the way, we saw a bunch of sea lions. They were just laying there, relaxing in all their glory, looking extremely comfortable while the rest of us were cold from the rain. After we finished kayaking, we snorkeled and saw a bunch of marine animals. Mr. Winters said that he saw an octopus and April saw three lobsters in a crevice!
After we ate lunch, Ellen drove us back to the isthmus and we did sampling of insects and plants. Unfortunately, the rain drove all the insects away, so we only looked at plants. There were the sagebrush, the oats, the sunflower bush, and the cacti! We also dug pit falls to trap little insects.
We got a lecture from Mr. Patel about viruses, slime, and the research he is doing, biofilm. Basically, he gave us a crash course on viruses and bacteria. He discussed his research on how bacteria and viruses attach themselves on to surfaces in the ocean, sometimes in mere minutes. He also shared some of the many mysteries about viruses including how to classify them and determine how they relate to one another. His experiments include putting several slides at the bottom of the ocean and then taking the samples back to the lab to analyze what has attached itself to the slide. Who ever knew that viruses, which are not alive, could have such a huge impact on living organisms?
Emily taught us how to make sushi today. Some of us were pretty good at it, but others were just really bad like Alice Thai. But, the sushi was really good.
This morning, we received a pleasant surprise from the Los Angeles Sheriff. They brought over a helicopter and we learned more about their functions and the interior. Mr. Winters is just as excited about the helicopter presentation as we were.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
This morning, after eating another delicious breakfast, we had to decide between going to do snorkel transects and carving soapstone. Since our team was really indecisive, the middle school team had to choose, and they all chose to carve soapstone.
Alex explained to us what soapstones are and how they were a vital part of Tongva culture. The Tongva used soapstone as a cooking vessel because the soapstone does not crack when it is heated. So today, we carved our own soapstone. Alice Thai carved a heart, inscribed with the song title “Wonderwall”, Alice Pan created a duck in honor of Ducky, who could not join us on Catalina, along with a moon, Kathleen carved a boat and water droplets and April carved a cute little baby elephant.
We took a tour of the Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber, a large chamber painted blue on the outside that’s used to treat people who have diving accidents by decompressing them. We got to go inside and were dropped one foot below sea level, and we heard our ears pop and learned about the other interesting effects of pressure changes.
There was also a GPS scavenger hunt where we were spilt up into teams of 3, and we were given Garmin GPS devices that had waypoints already programmed into them. Each team was given a different waypoint to start with, and we were, the Nudibranchs. At each waypoint there was a blue lidded box with a clue on in leading to the next waypoint. We were sent all over the waterfront, the library, and even near the dorms looking for clues and finally we made our way back to the volleyball court, soaking in the sun victoriously on the grass.
For algae pressing, we went into one of the labs and looked through two buckets of algae, then arranged pieces of the many beautiful kinds of algae on white cardstock. Then we put them between cardboard and cloth to soak up the paper. The many layers of cardboard, cloth, cardstock and algae were then tied up between two pieces of wooden trellis, and we pulled the straps as tight as possible. Over the next few days, they’ll be squished against the paper and hopefully stick to it when it’s finally dry.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Today, we packed a sack lunch to eat at the other end of the island, at Avalon. Alex drove us down hours’ worth of winding roads in a rattling red USC bus, and we made occasional stops to look at a herd of bison grazing on the hillside, an abandoned stagecoach stop, several photo spots with beautiful views, such as Little Harbor, and a small exhibit about the many animals of Catalina. While we were looking at twisty trees, which Jane dubbed Edgar Allan Poe trees, Mr. Winters tried to open the window of our bus so that we could take photos, and it fell off! Fortunately he was able to put it back on.
Our team, on the beach at Little Harbor.
We also made several stops to see a few animals kept in captivity because they couldn’t survive in the wild, such as a Catalina fox named Tashi, a bald eagle, and a golden eagle.
We went over to the Wrigley Botanical Gardens for lunch. The landscape is beautiful with lots of indigenous species as well as exotic species from different countries. During lunch we watched a video called “Going Home.” It showed us how the bison were transported to Catalina for a silent film and left here. Then after much collaboration from the institutes and the Indians, like the Gabrielino Indians, a couple bison were left behind and the rest were shipped back to their homeland in the Dakotas. At the end of the Botanical Garden stands a beautiful building where we could oversee the gorgeous scenery.
Being gangster with Michelle at the top of William Wrigley Jr.’s memorial.
We also went to Avalon today, the only other town on Catalina besides Two Harbors and the main tourist location, and it was amazing! The cute tiny little buildings, the colorful houses, and the dozens of golf carts were crazy. I mean, whoever heard of using golf carts as the main form of transportation? They even had license plates in front of them! We also went souvenir shopping and April bought earrings shaped like sea stars, Alice P. bought a bumblebee necklace, and Kathleen bought a deck of cards, among other things.
Alice Thai, disregarding all the safety rules she’s ever learned, stands in the middle of the street in front of adorable houses and little golf carts. Awww.
We also stopped at the airport shop to check out the many souvenirs and checked out a huge map of Catalina Island, made from tile. Afterwards, we went out to the soapstone quarry, which was down a long, winding trail, and Alex explained that trails are so windy to reduce erosion and the loss of plants. The soapstone quarry turned out to be a mound of rocks, covered in interesting lichen. On the way down, Alice Pan tripped and fell. She was extremely heroic about her wounds, and back in the van received several large bandages.
She’s not a very good lifeguard.
Before snorkeling, we had time to play volleyball. We played a game called “Prisoner” and the game was very interesting. We encouraged each other and had lots of fun. Rhodri, John, and Mr. Brooks kept cracking us up with their funny comments. Mr. Winters was very active and dove for every ball. He got to taste some sand.
We headed down to the waterfront to get suited up for night snorkeling! Alice Pan and Kathleen got new suits to keep them warm and all of us donned hoods to prevent the loss of heat. We ran a little late getting ready, but around nine o’clock we were in the water. We snorkeled around the rocks on the left and right side of the dock as well as under the dock. At times, we turned off our flashlights so that we could see the beautiful blue-green bioluminescence as we kicked our fins. Among the rocks we saw some huge lobster and baby lobster, the occasional moray eel, bright orange Garibaldi, blackfish, and kelp fish. While Alice Thai got a little cold and we had a few mishaps with our gear, the night snorkel was still a lot of fun.
Kathleen helping Alice Pan suiting up for the night snorkel!
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Right before we began the hike, Kathleen spotted what looked like a horse’s tail, but upon closer inspection it turned out to be a male bison. From inside the van, we were able to get good photos of the bison. The beginning of our five mile hike was very steep. Very quickly, Kathleen and Alice Pan fell behind to keep their own pace to have endurance for the whole hike. Although it was challenging to hike up the slopes, the view was amazing- the hills to one side and the ocean on the other complete with marshmallow-y clouds and a good breeze to keep us cool. On the way up a slope, Michelle, Kathleen and Alice Pan stopped to explore a car left in the hills. We ate lunch on one of the peaks where April demonstrated her mastery of the clouds, and the group took the opportunity to admire the landscape.
For me, it was the view that made the hike worth it- that and the fact that we were heading to the beach where we could explore or relax. For me, the hike was challenging because the steep slopes were not easy on my knees, but with the help of a walking stick, I was able to manage. Later, when I joined in the game, the hike became much easier. In the last mile or so, we racked our brains thinking of bands and artists where the next one name begins with the last letter of the preceding band or artist. It was really amazing to be able to look back on the trail and see the trail that I just covered. This was one of the most physically challenging activity and definitely one of the most memorable. I am glad that I was able to see Catalina as the gorgeous island as it is from the peaks and the valleys, the cliffs and the hills. – Kathleen Tan
I hadn't hiked in a really long time and after the first few steps on the trail today, I already thought it was really tiring. All I thought about was whether or not I could take the next step and after I took the next step, I thought about whether or not I could take the step after that. It took a lot of discipline to hike the first mile, but then we started playing this famous name game, which tests our knowledge of famous people. That passed the time really quickly, and by the end of the hike, all I felt was exhilarated. That feeling...I don't know if that happens a lot. That physical exertion that you feel, that satisfaction of knowing that you did something great, can be matched by no other. I'm not a big fan of sports and nor am I a big fan of mountain climbing, but today I finally realized why people are so attracted to it. Like Mouth from "One Tree Hill" had once said, "-You know, say what you will about the ravages of sports in this corporate age where overpaid athletes expect prima donna treatment, but there is still something so unifying about sport in its purest form, when athletes rise above themselves and touch greatness and, in doing so, remind us all that we also have greatness inside of us." I think I felt that greatness today. – Alice Thai
Today’s hike was quite long and interesting. Most of the people played a game called “Famous People” to take the attention away from the long hike. For others like me, it was a LONG walk, but totally worth it because of the marvelous scenery. We ate lunch at the summit, and we saw a bison UP CLOSE! It was grazing a few feet away. Then, the elementary school kids decided to collect bison scat and sell them, which we wish them luck. xD The five mile hike that took three hours was an unforgettable once in a lifetime experience. – Alice Pan
This morning, we got back into the big red USC van. Since the cooler full of our custom-made sack lunches was occupying two seats in the front, we filled up the back row this time, after removing Mr. Winters’ long feather and strange branchy dried algae from the seats. Emily joined us this time so that she could drive the van to the beach. On the way to the spot where we would begin our hike, we saw a very large bison amongst some palm trees off to the right of the van, and stopped to take photographs; at this point my camera died, leaving me free to enjoy the rest of the day and not worry about taking photos.
We were dropped off, got our sack lunches, and began our hike, which started off very steep and then became gentler – then downhill – then uphill again – and so on. For most of the way, Kent, Kelly, Danielle, and Julia led us. Those elementary school kids are fast! The scenery surrounding us was very beautiful, the browns and greens of the hills contrasting with the blue, sparkling ocean. Unlike on many of our other days, the weather was perfect; sunny and very breezy, so that we stayed cool but had a great view. During the downhill parts, though, we really had to focus on not tripping and falling into cacti or rocks, and there were some near falls! While we were eating our sack lunches, a large bison approached us, and eventually left. The Eastshore students also found some bison turds that John and Rhodri decided to collect and sell, much to our amusement. Good luck, guys.
Alex taught us an endless game that made the walk go much faster, in which one person began with a random name, then another person said a name with a first letter that matched the last letter of the original name, and so on. After a game of Famous People with Alice Thai full of N’s, E’s, T’s, and S’s, we began a Band/Artist game with Vanessa, and got to show off our musical knowledge and come up with a surprising amount of artists that began with “N” and “S”. Finally, after four miles of the windy trail and what felt like hours of trying to think of bands that start with “E”, we arrived at the campground near Little Harbor and got back into our vans.
Emily drove us over to Little Harbor, where I changed and immediately went into the ocean and got wet. I dug for tiny crabs in the sand, jumped the edges of the waves, ran along the sand, and then joined Vanessa, Kathleen and Alice Pan over by the large rocks, where we saw green and white sea anemones, small, beautifully patterned crabs with red pincers, barnacles, and mussels. I put my shoes back on and climbed on one of the largest rocks, a sharp black one, and saw an old, faded buoy jammed in the crack in between. I tried to pull it out by its rope, but failed. I also stubbed my toe running back across the sand.
Finally, we had to get back in the vans and go home. Alice Pan and I had a brief struggle with the shower, which was on slippery rocks, surrounded by sharp flat greenery and a moatlike river of ants, and had one of those buttons that you have to hold onto. We finally gave up and went back with sand still on our feet and in our shoes. On the way back, the adults in the front of the bus began playing the game with the topic “Dessert,” with a few contributions from the Alices and I, starting with “apple pie”. It made us all pretty hungry, and fortunately, we had our last ridiculously tasty Catalina dinner soon after we arrived back. Up in the dorms with the Alices and Kathleen, we scrolled through our iPods with frustrated exclamations (“I forgot about Aphex Twin!” “Aaah, One Republic!”), began to play the game with Literature, then eventually moved to Movies with Vanessa during dinner. Alice Pan kept making things up, and Vanessa kept going off topic. It was terrible.
After dinner Cindy led us in yoga, and then we played Prisoner a few times. It was a lot of fun. A little kid, Chris, played with us, and he made a few really great catches! It was amazing because he was so tiny compared to all of us, especially the adults. My team won!
Now it’s time for nocturnal hiking! Yay. - April Lee
After our long hike, we were taken by van from Little Harbor to Shark Beach where we changed into our beach gear and relaxed. While Alice Thai took a nice nap, Alice Pan, April and Kathleen explored the beach. First April and Kathleen explored the shore, letting the ocean waves lap our feet and April dug out sand crabs that burrowed into our hands. With Vanessa, we explored the rocks on one side of the beach where we saw crabs, limpets, sea anemones, mussels, and rock louse. The one crab that Vanessa picked up for us was a female guarding her eggs and April was able to take close up pictures of other crabs. Adventurous April also scaled the rocks to see what she could see.