By Anthony D. Ávila
ANTHONY ÁVILA / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Studio art sophomore Helena Hancock gets up close and personal with a crab on the shores of Mexico near Rocky Point during an oceanography field trip last weekend.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Oceanography students traveled to Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico, on a class field trip over the weekend to learn a valuable lesson about their class.
"It's easier to learn oceanography when you're actually in the ocean," said Lily Shevitz, a media arts sophomore.
Shevitz was one of 70 students, preceptors, teaching assistants and a professor, who trekked to Puerto Peñasco for the weekend to see the sea up close in a field trip arranged by the department of geosciences, said George Gehrels, a professor of Introduction to Oceanography, GEOS 212, who led the trip.
Instead of sitting in the lecture hall and taking notes, students squished their bare feet through the mud of an estuary, inland where fresh water meets the open salt water and picked up sea eels and octopi in tide pools.
"I loved sloshing around in the mud," Shevitz said. "You never knew whether your next step would be up or down."
Helena Hancock, a visual communications sophomore, said she enjoyed the freedom to learn that a lecture hall does not allow.
"Instead of sitting there with a notebook and pen, we were able to go out, get dirty and see what organisms we could find," Hancock said.
The group left the Gould-Simpson building at 1 p.m. Friday and drove eight university vans and two Ford Excursions for five hours to Rocky Point and stayed at CEDO, a nonprofit research center. CEDO is a Spanish abbreviation that translates to the "Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans."
Because of a new moon, the tidal range in Puerto Peñasco was more than 20 feet, which allowed students to see how various organisms and sea life adapt to extreme changes brought about by the change in tide.
The troupe was bigger than usual and more involved and enthusiastic about activities than those in the past, Gehrels said.
"This is the best group I've had," Gehrels said, adding there were no problems with disruptive behavior.
Miranda McBride, a preceptor for Gehrels class, echoed his statement.
"This was the best field trip of all time," said McBride, an ecology and evolutionary biology sophomore.
Besides learning about sea science first hand, the trip gave students a unique opportunity to interact with one another and develop friendships, said Megan Campbell, an education sophomore.
"It was a really good bonding experience," Campbell said.
The trip is designed for students to first appreciate the beauty and complexity of the marine world but also to understand the huge impact human activity has on marine life, Gehrels said.
"Students should leave the trip appreciating the magic and diversity of the marine world," Gehrels said. "We should be responsible citizens and protect the marine environment."