Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Rivers to Reefs 2014
Mission Information
 

Wednesday: June 25, 2014
Log Day 4

Jennifer Okiyama; Elkins Points Middle School,
   Roswell, GA
Michelle Rodabaugh, Cogburn Woods Elementary,
   Alpharetta, GA
Ben Wells, Oglethorpe Charter School, Savannah, GA
Nakeshia Williams, Henderson Middle School,
   Jackson, GA

Jennifer Okiyama

Jennifer Okiyama records data for her water quality monitoring team

Jennifer Okiyama records data for her water quality monitoring team.
(Photo: Amy Rath)

This day on Sapelo Island brings to view several vital relationships that teeter in a delicate balance.

The first is a relationship between man and nature. Man's desire to survive, progress and enjoy island life often comes head-on with the plants and animals needs for the same.

The battle between salt and fresh water is evident in the new species arriving and old disappearing due to the variances presented.

The group gathers before a crawl into the salt marsh

The group gathers before a crawl into the salt marsh.
(Photo: Amy Rath)

Listening to Mrs. Cornelia Walker-Bailey talk about the people of Sapelo Island, I noticed the delicate balance between the surviving lifestyles of cultures long ago and the new arrivals and progress that comes with modern times. All of these relationships demonstrate an alliance and trust on one another with a respect for all involved.

The sights, smells, feel, sounds and taste of this barrier island have so much to offer all that touch 0cits shores.

Michelle Rodabaugh

Michelle Rodabaugh crawls through the thick, sticky mud of the salt marsh into a tidal creek

Michelle Rodabaugh crawls through the thick, sticky mud of the salt marsh into a tidal creek.
(Photo: Amy Rath)

On the marsh today, a peaceful walk alongside it, peering down on it from above, and then crawling through it. Knowing that this day would come, mixed feelings have been skittering around inside me like the little crabs who call the marsh 'home'. On one hand, I was excited for the new experience; an adventure. On another hand, I was pretty apprehensive about the snakes and alligators that live there. However, I told myself that we wouldn't be doing it if it were truly dangerous. More than anything, I looked forward to experiencing the marsh first hand.

We all went into the marsh as a group, tromping through the mud, with our feet sinking and sticking as we tried to walk. Stopping to listen to Cathy as she shared fascinating information with us and to feel the mud between our fingers, our feet sunk in even deeper. We had to blaze our own path to rather than following in the sticky footsteps of the person in front of us. The thick salt marsh grass, called smooth cord grass, became a useful tool as we pushed the blades of grass down to create a mat to walk along. Normally accustomed to walking on designated trails, I felt bad blazing my own path. I didn't want to harm the ecosystem by smooching down the grasses and I grimaced to see the fiddler crabs scatter out of our way.

Reaching the cool, refreshing creek after crawling through mud is reason to celebrate.

Reaching the cool, refreshing creek after crawling through mud is reason to celebrate.
(Photo: Cathy Sakas)

Crawling through the last bit of muck, we made it to the stream (the same stream we had seen a bonnet head shark swimming in earlier in the morning -Eek!). We slid along on our bellies into the cool, refreshing water in the same way that the otters do. Even as nervous as I was about the alligators and snakes in the water (why I wasn't concerned about the shark, I'm not sure), I followed the group in anyway. We were all out of our comfort zone and cheering each other on for getting to this point. But, we were not done yet...we had to swim back across the creek to get to the truck. Forgetting my fears temporarily, I became a kid like the second grade students that I teach. On this trip, I have been fully immersed in not only the water and mud, but in the entire watershed experience.

Ben Wells

As adults, we often forget what it feels like to be a kid. That is unfortunate for many reasons. We tend to lose our natural curiosity, our ability to question without bias, and our innate sense of wonder.

Ben Wells measures the salinity of a tidal creek using a refractometer

Ben Wells measures the salinity of a tidal creek using a refractometer.
(Photo: Amy Rath)

Today we were given a change to recapture some of that. We spent the morning learning about the salt marsh, it's function, and importance to our coast. Later in the afternoon we experienced the salt marsh first-hand. We walked and crawled our way through it to a creek that floods and drains the marsh, stopping periodically to examine a fiddler crab on the mud or a periwinkle snail on a blade of smooth cordgrass.

Once there, we made time to play. Learning and playing, lessons from childhood that we need to reminded of to become better teachers.

Nakeshia Williams

I have a GREAT team! We started our day on yesterday by testing water samples from the Ocmulgee River. Working together we were able to complete all tests before the other teams.

On our next stop, we canoed on the Oconee River. I must admit that initially I felt a little nervous since I did not have any canoeing experience. But with Amy's encouragement, this activity became hands-down my favorite part of our journey thus far.

Nakeshia Williams inspects a sample of dock-fouling organisms from a dock on Sapelo Island

Nakeshia Williams inspects a sample of dock-fouling organisms from a dock on Sapelo Island.
(Photo: Amy Rath)

As a history teacher I really enjoyed hearing about the rich history of the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers that Scott, our canoe guide, took the time to share with us. He discussed the historical division of ethnic groups and shared with us the kinds of wildlife we might see along the river.

Lastly, we ended our day on Sapelo Island with a delicious feast from Ms. Lulu's Kitchen and basket weaving 101 with Ms. Yvonne. I have learned an incredible amount of information about Georgia's and our rivers. I am grateful for the opportunity to experience our state in this way and I can't wait to share all I've learned with my students. I am excited now to learn more about the island.

When in the marsh do as the otters do

When in the marsh do as the otters do!
(Photo: Amy Rath)


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