A classroom on the shore

From left, U.S. Geological Survey partner Irene Fisher, Audrey Wood, Camryn Page, Devon Bolton and Ethan Renault.

Shelter Island School students in Marine Biology and AP Environmental classes took to the beach this October 26 to participate in “A Day in the Life of the Peconic Estuary.”

“Students collected data on salinity, temperature, wind speed, tides and currents in three shore locations,” said teacher Janine Mahoney.

A Day in the Life is designed to celebrate the river and estuary ecosystems and educate participants on the uniqueness of Long Island’s state-designated wild and scenic rivers. On a single day, environmental education partners and students along the Carmans River, Peconic Estuary and Nissequogue River simultaneously collect scientific information, analyze it and share it to portray the status of the river and estuary ecosystem. 

Students use hands-on field techniques to describe their sites, catch fish in nets, collect water and invertebrate samples, develop a biodiversity inventory of the riparian zone and analyze water chemistry. They examine the physical and chemical aspects of the river, such as where freshwater and salty seawater meet, the amount of sediments in the water and turbidity and oxygen levels, as well as conduct biodiversity inventories of the flora and fauna in and around the ecosystems. All data collected on these Days will be posted on portaltodiscovery.org. 

The event is coordinated by the Central Pine Barrens Commission, Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Portal to Discovery, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Suffolk County Water Authority.