On January 30th, interns from Alameda HS met with interns from San Lorenzo HS, Antioch HS, Skyline HS, Richmond HS, and Pinole Valley HS to learn about Beach Wrack from resident expert Connor Dibble. Connor is pursuing a PhD in coastal ecology from UC Davis and is a great resource for our students interested in the coastal ecosystem we live in.
Beginning with an overview of the coastal ecosystem, we learned about the vast amounts of nutrients that wash ashore from aquatic production, the marine algae or seaweeds we might consider to be more of an eyesore than anything, littering our beaches. However, for shorebirds, and the insects they feed on, these algaes provide the basis of a coastal ecosystem that is dependent on the nutrients originating in the ocean.
Using a datasheet, interns walked the Alameda shoreline looking for clumps of wrack, and investigating what it was comprised of. We were surprised to find not just aquatic algae, but also pieces of terrestrial plants wrapped up, such as cactus, and redwood leaves and cones. Measuring the wrack and recording the number of macro-invertebrates in each pile gave our interns an idea of how important the wrack is to our coastal ecology.