Embarking on a Scientific Adventure in the Long Island Sound

We are fortunate to live near one of the nation’s great estuary systems, the Long Island Sound, where the salty waters of the Atlantic mix with freshwater from Connecticut’s three main rivers. Estuaries are among the most productive ecosystems on Earth, and the Sound is home to more than 1,200 species of invertebrates, 170 species of fish and dozens of species of migratory birds.

This month the Graders had a unique learning experience on the Sound, fully immersing themselves in the richness and beauty of this ecosystem. They had the opportunity to set sail on Soundwaters, a science nonprofit dedicated to teaching the next generation about the importance of their actions in protecting this extraordinary resource.

Under the guidance of expert docents, the children engaged in hands-on activities. They closely observed animals collected from the Sound, from crustaceans to fish to tiny plankton, which they could only see with a microscope. They pulled up a trawl net to capture more specimens and were fascinated by the unusual form of the horseshoe crab, a living fossil that evolved in the shallow seas of the Paleozoic Era.

In addition, students learned about the Sound’s role as a feeding and nursery area for many ocean species, and how the health of the Sound is linked to the diversity and abundance of fisheries along the Atlantic coast. As citizen scientists, they examined water samples from different parts of the Sound and tested them for water quality.

The Soundwaters voyage “deputized” your children to be good protectors of and advocates for this precious resource. Equally important, this adventure launched them into summer, which is the perfect time to nurture children’s curiosity and commitment to environmental stewardship, ensuring they understand the vital role they play in protecting our oceans and working for a sustainable and thriving marine ecosystem.

If the enthusiasm displayed by the children on the trip is any indication, the waters off our shores, here and elsewhere, are in very good hands!