Los Fresnos News

UTRGV Marine Science Summer Camp Offers Closeup Look at Marine Life

Area children this summer are aboard the R/V Ridley, UTRGV’s floating classroom, to learn about marine life up close and in a hands-on environment through the university’s Coastal Studies Lab summer camps. Children attending use a touch-tank to view and interact with the marine critters pulled up in nets, and get to study plankton under a microscope. They also participate in fun learning projects like hermit crab races and fish painting. Photo: David Pike/UTRGV

by Maria Elena Hernandez

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – Alison Brovold’s children weren’t the only ones who learned from the UTRGV Marine Science Summer Camp.

After the first day of the two-day camp, the McAllen family talked about pelicans, and Brovold’s children, Emil and Vivian, decided to name a pelican “Gular.”

“They said, that’s the word for the skin between their beak and their neck that makes their pouch,” Brovold said. “And my husband Googled it, and it’s true, sure enough. We didn’t know that.”

She said her children enjoyed their time at the marine camp, and she and her husband enjoyed the learning opportunity available.

“We like science a lot in our family, so we were just really excited to find a camp that combines some science with marine ecosystems,” she said.

As part of the camp, participants rode the university’s floating classroom vessel, the R/V Ridley, explored aquariums at the UTRGV Coastal Studies Lab on South Padre Island, conducted freshwater and saltwater comparisons at the SPI Birding Center and Nature Center, and visited Sea Turtle Inc.

Shelby Bessette is program manager of the UTRGV Coastal Studies Lab and leader of the summer camps, which continue until July 31.

“We hope that the campers connect to the environment and learn to love the aquatic animals and the wildlife that’s in the area,” she said, “and learn to be better environmental stewards and good examples to others.”

While on the Ridley, a university research vessel, camp participants got a closeup look at sea creatures.

“We did a trawl and picked up some fish and crabs and other critters, so everyone got to touch that and explore it,” Bessette said.

They also collected plankton, which campers studied under a microscope. At the UTRGV Coastal Studies Lab, they raced hermit crabs and made fish prints.

“We saw the fish prints that they made. They’re beautiful,” Brovold said. “They were so excited.”

UTRGV is hosting more camps throughout the summer. You can see a list of camps available at utrgv.edu/camps.