Discovery Tank Puts Local Marine Life in Youngsters' Hands

The Sea Star was a big hit as students learned about their regenerative growth including an eye at the end of each of their 5 legs.
The Sea Star was a big hit as students learned about their regenerative growth including an eye at the end of each of their 5 legs.
Supervised by a marine biologist Marie Cancro, Countrywood students add to their local saltwater ecosystem one creature at a time, and local marine life, slippery and looking for water, find a welcome home.
Supervised by a marine biologist Marie Cancro, Countrywood students add to their local saltwater ecosystem one creature at a time, and local marine life, slippery and looking for water, find a welcome home.
Marie Cancro, from Cornell University Cooperative Extension, shows students where the Sea Star draws in water.
Marie Cancro, from Cornell University Cooperative Extension, shows students where the Sea Star draws in water.
Periwinkle snails are acting shy for this first-grader.
Periwinkle snails are acting shy for this first-grader.
Common Atlantic slipper snails are able to change from a girl to a boy and vice-versa, based on who’s on the top of the stack of snails.
Common Atlantic slipper snails are able to change from a girl to a boy and vice-versa, based on who’s on the top of the stack of snails.
This little hermit crab begins to poke his head out to see what all the fuss is about.
This little hermit crab begins to poke his head out to see what all the fuss is about.

For a few of the first graders at Countrywood School, it was icky at first, but for most, especially the boys, it was all cool. Under the South Huntington's PTA Cultural Arts Committee's sponsorship, Cornell University Cooperative Extension brought their "Discover Tank" program here to Countrywood, and they brought some friends too. Sea stars; ribbed mussels; common Atlantic slipper shells, which are anything but common, since they can change from a boy to a girl easily; periwinkle snails; hermit crabs; and stripped killifish were all part of a lively presentation.

Following her hands-on introduction to the many marine creatures that live in our local waters, Marine Biologist Marie Cancro encouraged the Countrywood first graders to help in the process of setting up the 10-gallon saltwater aquarium. "I’m interested in making these first-graders more aware of the environment that surrounds them here on Long Island," she said. "Kids at this age should not be afraid to explore the sea life that they find right at their own beaches. The students seem most impressed with the sea star because they rarely get to see them up close like this." At Countrywood Primary Center, the highlight of the morning was when students got to touch and hold the various marine creatures and add them to their tank one at a time. “I speak to the students a little about water quality and pollution to make them aware that there are things we do on land that directly affect the lives of these sea creatures.”

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