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Sea Bass Delivery Brings San Diego's Coastal Ecosystem to Classroom

Weighing the seabass Students in Mr. James's science classes at La Jolla High are going to have quite a fish story.

Scientists from Hubbs‐SeaWorld Research Institute  recently delivered small cultured white sea bass to his class to help the students -- and the fish.

The small fish are in the classroom's saltwater aquarium and for the next several months the students will maintain the system and care for the fish as they prepare them for their eventual release into the ocean. In a partnership with Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute, the California Department of Fish and Game and Get Inspired!, the Sea Bass In The Classroom Program brings a hands‐on ocean‐based learning experience into the classroom and couples it with field activities related to the release of fish.

The program teaches the students about aquaculture and stock enhancement by growing the fish for release into the ocean. It is part of the Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program and is being funded by SDG&E Environmental Champions Award.

"This is the only program of its kind in the U.S.," said Michael A Shane, the program's coordinator for the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute. "While there are other projects that raise fish in the classroom, they are freshwater species. Marine species are more difficult to culture and provide the linkage to the ocean that is important and appropriate for Southern California youth."

The program allows young people to participate in a marine replenishment program that has been operating since the mid‐80s. The program helps them not only gain a better understanding of where their food comes from but it also addresses all related aspects associated with sustainability including 1) the health of the oceans; 2) California agriculture; 3) food production technology; 4) the health benefits of eating seafood; and 5) food security, said Shane.

The students are learning about the sustainability of a natural resource through the practices of environmental science, and the importance of water quality as a factor in animal, plant, and human health.

"The ability to use this system for laboratory activities, field research, data collection and analysis necessary for actually raising white sea bass for release into the wild is unique and extremely valuable," said teacher Dave James. "They are learning information that is not found in their textbooks and they get to interact with and ask questions of scientists who come into their classroom.

Some of the activities conducted by the student scientists participating in the sea bass program include:

  • The exploration and understanding of the life cycle, growth patterns, reproductive rates and viabilities, genetic diversity, and anatomy and physiology of white sea bass;

  • A dissection of whole fish to observe anatomy and physiology of a fish;

  • Witness fish necropsy performed by a fish pathologist;

  • Measure a sampling of the classroom’s white sea bass to determine average growth rate;

  • A field trip to Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute to see the largest marine fish hatchery on the West Coast and to observe first‐hand the various life stages and technology employed in culturing white sea bass;

  • And the collection, analysis, recording, and comparison of water quality statistics from the classroom’s saltwater aquarium system and from local saltwater sites (wetland community waters and ocean waters) to study dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, salinity, nitrates, ammonia, and alkalinity.

For more information on the program, contact Shane at 619-226-3946.

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