seattle aquarium

Diving Deep into Science at the Aquarium

Written by Molly Bogeberg, Marine Conservation Coordinator

A few members of the TNC Team and some of our fabulous volunteers participated in three days of energetic children, ocean education, and science fun at Seattle Aquarium’s Discover Science Weekend. The weekend kicked off with an evening of Lightening Talks staring local scientists from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the University of Washington, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Vulcan Inc. Each scientist was given a mere 5 minutes to explain their research. This meant that the scientists had to be creative and quick to get their point across. It was a fun way to dabble in local research and mingle with other science nerds!

 For the main Discover Science event, we had a booth to highlight our outreach materials on ocean acidification. Alongside the booth, our new ocean acidification infographic stood tall and provided talking points to help explain the complicated topic of ocean acidification, clearly. In addition to giving out our handy infographic booklets on ocean acidification to adults and coloring sheets to the little ones, we enticed kids to our table with a science experiment! Eager young scientists came with eyes bright and ready to learn.

For our experiment, we added CO2 to seawater using a Soda Streamer and then mixed in a pH indicator solution into normal seawater and the carbonated seawater to demonstrate how the chemistry of the water had been altered by CO2. With the addition of a green pH indicator, the color of the normal seawater retained the color of the pH indicator (green). The carbonated seawater, however, turned a bright orange after just a few drops of green pH indicator. We also used pH test strips to analyze the actual change in pH between the two samples. The changing color of the carbonated seawater elicited "ooos and ahhs" along with nods of understanding. You could really tell that the experiment and dialog helped the kids (and their parents) to grasp the concept of changing ocean conditions. After the experiment, we had kids roll a dice full of ways that they could help combat ocean acidification in their daily life. From civic action to walking to the farmer’s market to get groceries, the kids agreed that there were ways that they could help their favorite sea creatures!

Discover Science Weekend is my favorite outreach event that I get to participate in here at TNC. It really gives me hope to see kids excited about science and I love helping to inspire the next generation of ocean conservationists!

Learn more about our ocean work  

Kids & Nature: How Lingcod Pots Work

Written by Makayla Johnson, Volunteer Intern

Most commercial lingcod fishermen use trawl nets to capture lingcod along the Washington coast. The main problem with this fishing method is that trawl nets are notorious for capturing unintended species of fish while scraping the sea floor at the same time.

The unintended capture of species through fishing is called bycatch. Bycatch has impacts to the environment and to economics.  Unfortunately, most of the bycatch end up dying before they can be put back in the ocean. Also, if lingcod fishermen catch too many recovering overfished species as bycatch, their fishery can be shut down by the government.

The Nature Conservancy has teamed up with The University of Washington and lingcod fishermen in Ilwaco to invent a new fishing pot that protects habitat and sea creatures. They did this by observing the behavior of the Lingcod and designing a fishing pot that catches lingcod, with minimal if not any- bycatch. The fishing pot also has minimal impacts to the seafloor.

Every year, the Seattle Aquarium hosts a "Discover Science" weekend where federal, state and other non-governmental environmental organizations come up with fun outreach activities to educate the public on all of the cool science that they are doing. Each organization creates outreach materials to engage people of all ages from 2-100! The public is invited to walk through the aquarium and talk with the different organizations about their science research.

As an intern at The Nature Conservancy, I had the opportunity to work with the marine team and TNC volunteers at the Aquarium to present TNC’s lingcod pot project! We worked hard to get ready for the day. We created poster boards with information about the project, retrieved video footage of the pots in action from fishermen, and developed an outreach activity for the children. Working at the booth was fantastic! At the event, it was awesome to interact with the smaller children with the game we made to demonstrate how the lingcod pots work, and talk with their parents about how TNC and the University of Washington is helping to advance the technology of the fishermen for a cleaner catch. We saw a total of 5,218 visitors through our doors over the two days, 3,185 of them the first day and 2,033 the second day.