AP Biology students find their sea legs on field trip


Courtesy of Jessica Lee

Seniors pose for the camera at Port Aransas. This is the second year the AP Biology field trip has been at the University of Texas lab.

Christian Maines, Staff Writer

Senior Luke Kramer and AP Biology teacher Doug Elliott caught a sea turtle covered in barnacles with a 14-inch diameter on their field trip to Port Aransas.

“At one point it got exasperated and slapped Mr. Elliott with a flipper,” Kramer said.

Elliott chaperoned the trip to the University of Texas Marine Science Institute Oct. 13-14. Students visited a lab on the beach and made two excursions by boat to the Intracoastal Waterway. The field trip has been a tradition for several years, but this is only the second year in which the class visited Port Aransas.

“We go out onto the beach, and we do what’s called seining,” Elliott said. “If you’ve never seen it, it’s a big net that you hang between two sticks, and you drag it along the beach and see what critters you can find.”

31 AP Biology students, both juniors and seniors, took the three and a half hour trip to Port Aransas.

“We did mud digs, which are when the kids would dig in the sand and run it through a sifter,” Elliott said.

The boat for the tours on the Intracoastal Waterway was out of commission for the first day, but it was back up-and-running for the second. Once the boat was in working order, students were able to make their trip to the Intracoastal Waterway, an area between the islands of Port Aransas. The boat dragged nets behind it to gather fish, shrimp, and squid.

“We saw dolphins about the size of the boat,” Elliot said.

After the boat trip, students returned to the Marine Institute and looked through microscopes at what they had gathered with a plankton net. They studied comb jellies, diatoms and crustaceans that they caught.

“We went to dinner, and then we went down to the beach, the very same beach were we were seining, and we built a fire and had s’mores,” Elliott said. “The moon was one day short of being full, big, huge and gorgeous in the sky, with the sea breeze.”