One of the amazing experiences here at Chewonki are the weekly science field trips. Each week on either Tuesday or Thursday, half of the semester explores an aspect of the life or ecosystems here on the neck or in nearby Maine. So far, we’ve climbed Morse Mountain, started the sugaring process on the neck, collected data for the forest succession on the neck, waded into the Sheepscot river to learn about stream ecology, and more. This past week, we learned about the ecosystems that make up a salt marsh by going into the Spartina salt marsh on Chewonki neck.
It was cold and rainy as we were fitted into our wader boots and prepared to head into the marsh. I was really excited because I had never been in a salt marsh before and I was curious to see what it was like. When we arrived at the marsh, for the first hour we were told to explore the marsh, draw a map and write a site description. Everyone started to disperse into the marsh and I went into the mud flats which is the lowest elevation area where the water runs through. As soon as I stepped in, my foot sunk about five inches deep into the mud. I pulled my foot out and had to walk quickly so my feet wouldn’t be pulled down into the mud. Every step took a lot of effort and by the end of the first hour of exploring I was tired.
We regrouped and talked about what we noticed, what questions we had and how the ecosystem worked. We learned about the different components: the elevation and zones of the marsh, the animals, and how the marsh is connected to the ocean and the land. After, we were back in the marsh exploring one component in greater depth. I chose to learn more about clamming and the clam’s role in the salt marsh. We learned that where there are little holes of water in the mud, there are clams underneath. We had to take off our gloves and dig into the cold mud to find them. By the end of the trip, my hands and feet were freezing and I was exhausted from trekking around in the mud and my field journal and whole body was soaked because of the rain. But despite the cold and rain, it was one of the coolest experiences I have had here and throughout the entire time, I kept thinking about how incredible it was that this was part of my school day.
Dani, Friends Central School, PA