Category Archives: News

Toyon Bay Safari Animals

If you are slightly familiar with Catalina Sea Camp, you have most likely heard of our friendly neighborhood bison. But there are so many other species of animals that call Toyon Bay home. Every week, we welcome circa 200 campers to invade the bay and to have one of the best weeks of their summer. I wanted to take a look at the more permanent residents of the bay.

 

BISON

Bison Bison

The bison is not native to Catalina Island. In 1924, a filming company decided to take advantage of the beauty of Catalina Island to film the movie “The Vanishing American” there. Then someone on the crew decided that they simply must have bison there in order to enhance the movie. They paid to have these bison shipped over to the island, they filmed the movie, and then they shipped off—without the bison. Now, this massive animal has made the island its home, and sometimes makes trips down to camp to say hello.

animals

Photograph by: Ashley Hann

SEA STAR

Asteroidea

My only encounter with sea stars had been watching the talkative one in Finding Nemo. Then one day, I joined a group of campers on a snorkel, and our instructor dove down and found one. I watched, just as fascinated and intrigued as the 10 and 11 year olds, as our instructor showed us the creature. She later told me that she was worried about the stress level of the sea star, which when risen, can cause their limbs to fall off. A common party trick for sea stars and other aquatic creatures, this defense mechanism can occur without killing the sea star due to its regenerative nature.

animals sea star

SEA LIONS

Zalophus californianus

We’ve seen them on scuba diving trips, kayaking trips, blue water boat trips, around our float during the evening hours, and even on our beach a time or two. These babies can grow up to 800 pounds, but can cruise through the water at up to 25 miles per hour. If you have never seen one of these creatures move through the water, go to YouTube and spend some time researching. It’s nothing short of magic.

animals sea lion

Photograph by: Ashley Hann

LEOPARD SHARKS

Triakis semifasciata

So my boss told me that we would probably see sharks my first time snorkeling here in the bay (also my first time snorkeling ever). As prepared as she made me to face these lurking masses, I still had to force myself to breathe normally when I first saw its shadow about six feet away from me. Since then, I have probably seen a hundred of these guys, and I am now proud to say that I have touched one (in a closely monitored touch tank here in camp, but still). In reality, these sharks are fairly harmless. They are bottom feeders, so their mouths are towards the bottom of the sea floor; meaning bites to humans are difficult and thus uncommon.

animals shark

Photograph by: Gretchen Beehler

GARIBALDI

Hypsypops rubicundus

These bright orange little fish are all over our bay. They’re territorial little buggers, but they also make for a beautiful pop of color. Garibaldis are protected in California because they are the state marine fish. Some people say these fish can be trained to do a back flip, but I have only ever heard of one specific garibaldi that can do it.

 

animals garibaldi

Photograph by: Ashley Hann

FOXES

Urocyon littoralis catalinae

One of the first nights here I saw a stray cat near me. Nostalgic for my cat at home, I beckoned for it to come close to me and love me. After attempting and failing for longer than I care to admit, the creature ran away, and I realized that the animal I was trying to snuggle was a wild fox. The Catalina Island Fox is threatened specie of fox. It is registered with the Conservancy program on the island, which has been working since 2004 to bring population levels back up to normalcy. In 2004, there were just over 300 foxes on the island. As of 2017, over 2,000 foxes have been reported. Despite the work done and the accomplishments of the initiative, this fox remains threatened, and efforts will not cease.

Joel Sartore, a National Geographic award winning photographer featured the Catalina Island Fox in his photo project on endangered species, entitled the Photo Ark. Check it out here!
https://www.joelsartore.com/keyword/catalina-island-fox/

CASI, WRIGLEY, COCO, AND GOLDIE

Canis lupus familiaris

The most dangerous animals on the island—rock-fetching retrievers. These four pooches belong to our longstanding admin in the bay. You can follow Casi’s life here on her very own Instagram page (https://www.instagram.com/casi_at_cimi/). All four of them have a very stressful life of unlimited affection and belly rubs, wide-open spaces to frolic and play, and all the rocks to fetch in the ocean that they could ever want. There are no signs that these animals will become endangered anytime soon, but I’ll keep you updated.

These are only a few of the most common fauna here in Toyon Bay, and I, for one, look forward to many more run-ins with these incredible animals.

SOURCES:

https://www.catalinaconservancy.org/index.php?s=wildlife&p=recovery_of_the_catalina_island_fox

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/c/california-sea-lion/?beta=true

The Adventure of Science Spotlight

Science and Adventure at Catalina Sea Camp is about more than just education – it’s about experience, interaction, and challenges. Campers that come to Catalina Sea Camp get awesome opportunities to experience more than conventional courses in science when they come to Toyon Bay, as Jeff Chace and his team work day in and day out to provide opportunities for campers to go beyond the textbook to experiencing science first hand at our Plankton, Algae, and Fish Labs as well as in our Marine Mammal Hall and through experiences traveling across the island in Catalina Explore and Adventure classes.

Science adventure

Campers in our one-week programs have the opportunity to experience our ocean firsthand by collecting plankton samples to view under the microscope and feeling invertebrates and sharks in our touch tanks. In the three-week programs campers explore Catalina to study endemic species and experience the beauty of Sea Camp’s surroundings.

Science adventure 1

Through opportunities to adventure, campers participate in activities ranging from archery and the giant swing to rock climbing and stand-up paddle boarding. Activities are dictated by challenge by choice, where campers push themselves to their own personal limits in a safe environment. Regardless of what campers are doing on any given day, Science and Adventure staff make it their mission to engage campers, through sharing the incredible beauty of the nature surrounding Toyon and by encouraging campers to push themselves beyond what they thought possible.

It’s Shark Week!

For as long as humans have roamed the Earth, sharks have swam the oceans. In fact, sharks have been around for much longer than us…about 100 times longer, to be exact! Sharks have been in existence for about 450 million years, and we are currently aware of about 450 different species of shark, discovering new ones each year!

The truth of the matter is that we really don’t know all that much about sharks, but what we do know is that these ocean creatures are as fascinating as they are mysterious, because not much is directly known about their breeding, migrating, or feeding habits. Luckily, Discovery Channel’s Shark Week airs once a year to teach us all about the latest findings within the marine science community.

shark-vs-human-killing_photogallery

Every year during the summer, this weeklong series focuses on the fascinating lives of the most feared ocean creatures, sharks! This biting program has aired since 1988, making it the longest running cable television event in history. Shark Week focuses on the habits of these elusive animals, and seeks ultimately to debunk irrational fears that people have developed surrounding these ocean apex predators.

live-every-week-like-its-shark-week-1024x413

Shark Week has been educating the public for decades, and has helped to make incredible strides for the conservation and advocacy of these often overlooked and misunderstood animals. In fact, one could argue that Shark Week has boosted the popularity of these elusive predators in mainstream media. Beginning with this weeklong series, public fears and curiosity were confronted with cool shark facts and fascinating footage, which captivated audiences and began to assuage our age-old shark fears. In fact, there’s been a noticeable shift in the general public’s outlook on our most feared ocean-dwelling friends.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 1.07.24 PM

For instance, a few Great White Sharks made headlines last year when they beached themselves on the coast of Cape Cod. As opposed to running the opposite direction, beachgoers ran instead to their rescue. The footage of the public running to the aid of these long feared creatures and the immediate Internet attention this video received shows how people’s perspectives have begun to take a turn for the better. Similarly, some of these White Sharks have massive twitter followings. OCEARCH, a shark research organization, developed real-time tracking for a handful of White Shark individuals, giving them names like Mary Lee and Kathrine. These females and their movements captivated social media followers and have amassed a base of over 80,000 twitter followers, making them the most famous White Sharks of the ocean!

Katherine

Thanks to the efforts of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week and organizations like OCEARCH, shark populations off US waters have begun to make a comeback. The North Atlantic population has bounced back from decimated numbers, and as well human perception has begun to see a shift from fear to fascination. These top predators may look scary from the outside, but they are key species to the oceanic ecosystem, and hey, sharks have feelings too! So be sure to tune in to Shark Week on June 26th, because it’s guaranteed to provide us with some incredible shark footage and scientific insight!

Follow Shark Week on:
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram

Early Bird Incentive Ends SOON!

Don’t Miss Out on All this FUN!

Sign up before December 31st, 2015 and SAVE $$$$!

Register HERE

Catalina Sea Camp • One-Week Sessions

Coed Ages 8 – 13

One-Week Session 1:  June 11 – June 17           $1,450 ($1,600 after 12/31/15)
One-Week Session 2:  June 18 – June 24           $1,550 ($1,700 after 12/31/15)
One-Week Session 3:  June 25 – July 1               $1,550 ($1,700 after 12/31/15)

*Please note: Catalina Sea Camp One-Week Sessions run from Saturday to Friday

Space is limited in some sessions.  A NON-REFUNDABLE deposit of $200.00 is required to register. Register HERE

Catalina Sea Camp • Three-Week Sessions

Coed Ages 12 – 17

Three-Week Session 71:  July 3 – July 22          $4,150 ($4,400 after 12/31/15)
Three-Week Session 72:  July 24 – August 12   $4,150 ($4,400 after 12/31/15)

Space is limited in some sessions. NON-REFUNDABLE deposit of $200 is required to register. Register HERE

*Please note: Catalina Sea Camp Three-Week Sessions run from Sunday to Friday

Applying and Registration 

All of our camp sessions fill up very quickly, so APPLY EARLY!   For additional information or questions, please contact us.

Phone: 800.645.1423 or 909.625.6194
Fax: 909.625.9977 or 909.625.7305
Catalina Sea Camp • P. O. Box 1360 • Claremont, CA 91711
Email: Sea Camp Registrar
Office Hours: 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM (Lunch 12:30-1:00)

CHECK OUT SOME MORE OF THE FUN!!!

 

5 Must Haves When Packing for Camp

The first day of camp is almost here! Now, of course that means packing for your child. This can be a stressful and overwhelming process. We want to give you a heads up as to what is really important for your child to bring with them to camp. Here are the 5 simple things your child MUST HAVE.

1. Good Pair of Shoes
Every camper needs a good pair of shoes. It doesn’t matter what color, brand, or how long they have had them. The purpose of a good pair of shoes is to get your child moving, participating, and ready for any adventure that awaits them. Camp is a place where your child can try new things in an environment where they are safe and supported.

shoes (1)

Good shoes have them jumping for joy!

2. Cap – Thinking Cap
A thinking cap isn’t an actual tangible item however it is important to the experience your child will have at camp. Trust me, their thinking cap will get used. Your child isn’t in school, yet there are so many opportunities to learn about the ocean, Catalina Island, and even about themselves. Some of the activities are designed to be fun and entertaining and engage your child’s critical thinking skills in order to accomplish tasks. Not only does your child’s thinking cap help with problem solving, it is also critical in having a positive attitude. No matter what camp your child attends, there is always something that doesn’t go as planned. The weather is bad for a hike or the waves are not big enough to stand up in surf class. Whatever the case may be that things didn’t go as planned; a positive attitude can completely change the experience from so-so to spectacular!

Casi has her thinking cap and she is thinking this is a great place for a nap.

3. Suit – Silly Suit
Camp is the place where you can wear your silly suit the entire time. Wearing your silly suit means singing at random times. It means not being afraid to be yourself. It also means you can actually wear the silliest things you can find and no one will think twice about what you have on. So bring your costumes, wigs, funny hats, and gorilla suits…they will get worn. Oh and since we are surrounded by ocean, bringing an actual swimming suit is a good thing, too.

silly 2 (1)

4. Goggles – Friendship Goggles or Mask
At camp your child will put their goggles on and open their eyes to all the possibilities of friendship. There will be children at camp from all over the world, so your child has the opportunity to make friends with kids from all backgrounds and walks of life. Differences are a place for common ground at camp and these friendships form quickly. Many of the friendships made as 8-year-olds last a lifetime. The friendship goggles will help them to open their eyes and their heart.

Friends (1)

5. Toothbrush
A toothbrush because everyone needs one or that would be gross.

All kidding aside, this list will ensure your child has a memorable experience this summer. While packing clothes and everything else on the packing list is important, do not panic if something is forgotten. Being willing to try new things (good pair of shoes), having a positive thinking (thinking cap), being silly (Silly suit), and opening your heart (Friendship goggles) to new people is what camp is really all about.

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill: 26 Years Later

According to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, on March 29th, 1989 approximately 11 million gallons, or 17 Olympic-sized swimming pools, of crude oil were spilled into Prince William Sound, Alaska. Due to the amount of oil, timing of the spill, and pristine location in which it occurred, the Exxon Valdez oil spill is still widely considered one of the worst oil spills in history in terms of environmental damage. The spill covered 460 miles, and approximately 1,300 miles of shoreline were impacted. Even after 26 years, the habitat and wildlife are still suffering from effects of the spill.

Though almost all animals were affected by this environmental disaster, birds were among the most immediately and widely affected. The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council estimates that 250,000 seabirds were killed by the spill. Birds are particularly susceptible to oil damage because of their feathers. Birds use their feathers as insulation to protect them from cold water. When oil penetrates feathers, they can no longer hold air to keep the birds warm. Many birds died of hypothermia because of this lack of insulation.

Birds often perform preening, an act of straightening their feathers with their beak. The beak also has a specialized gland that produces an oily substance to keep the feathers waterproof. Along with destroying the effects of this waterproofing substance, crude oil is likely to be ingested by birds while preening. When ingested, the crude oil acts as a poison, killing the bird. Clean up efforts required washing individual animals with dish soap to rid their feathers of crude oil. Unfortunately, it also stripped the feathers of natural oils, so a recovery period was necessary.

Crude oil is considered a persistent oil; meaning natural processes are not usually enough to remove it from the environment. Because a large amount of oil was pouring out of a number of holes into calm seas, the oil slick spread consistently on top of the water. Compounding this issue, the lack wave action or turbulence in Prince William Sound during the spring did not break up the oil into fragments or droplets. Without this breakup of the oil slick, natural processes such as dissolution or biodegradation, along with clean up substances being dropped onto the slick, did not have opportunity to take effect.

There is a simple experiment that can be performed to examine the effects of crude oil on bird feathers. Buy soft feathers from a craft store. Create a “crude oil” mixture by mixing 3 parts vegetable oil and 1 part cocoa powder. Make one bowl each of salt water, fresh water and fresh water with dish soap. Dip feathers in the crude oil mixture and compare the washing effect of each type of water. Feel how oily each feather is after washing. Pouring the crude oil mixture at different speeds can also simulate the effect of turbulence. First, pour the oil into the salt water bowl quickly, taking note of the natural separation of the oil into droplets. Quickly pouring the oil creates turbulence in the bowl, simulating wave action and rough water separating an oil slick. Then, pour the mixture slowly. This represents calm seas, in which the oil will spread evenly, coating the entire surface of the water.

Happy Anniversary National Wildlife Refuge

 
Here at CIMI, we are a proud proponent of keeping wild places wild. That’s why we’re celebrating the anniversary of the first National Wildlife Refuge. Using an executive order, the conservation-minded President Theodore Roosevelt established the Pelican Island Refuge on March 14, 1903. Since that day, over 560 national wildlife refuges have been created across the United States. The Wildlife Refuge System is an extensive network of protected areas created with the intention of conserving, managing, and even restoring animal and plants populations. Over 150,000,000 acres of our country are dedicated to nation wildlife refuges, protecting over 220 species of mammals, 250 reptiles and amphibians, 700 species of birds, and 1,000 species of fish! These refuges are incredibly important to plants and animals, seeing as over 380 threatened and endangered species call them home.

The California Condor Recovery Program (Recovery Program) is a multi-entity effort, lead by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to recover the endangered California condor.

CACO_63_512pix

Photo Credit: www.fws.gov “California Condor Recovery Program”

There are 39 National Wildlife Refuges in California starting as far south as Tijuana and reaching as far north as Castle Rock on the border between California and Oregon. The Hopper Mountain National Refuge Complex is a system of 4 national wildlife refuges that were established in California to protect the endangered California condor. Due to lead poisoning, poaching, and habitat destruction, California condors were nearly driven extinct in the 29th century. With only 22 individuals left in the wild, drastic measures needed to be taken! Combined efforts to both protect the condors’ habitats with National Wildlife Refuges as well as capture the condors breeding programs has led to a recent boom in their population. Today, California condors are released into the Hopper Mountain National Refuge to roost and live out their lives with minimal human interference; this has led to an increase in numbers to more than 425 in captivity or in the wild, protected by wildlife refuges.

Written by: Max Veenema

Summer Scuba Adventure at Camp


If you want to join these amazing underwater creatures then you will want to check out Catalina Sea Camp scuba diving program. Catalina Sea Camp offers beginners to master diver courses. Check back at the beginning of the year for a full list of all Catalina Sea Camp course descriptions.

Have you never been scuba diving before? If you have always wanted to give it a test then our Try Dive scuba class is for you! Some of our instructors only want to teach this Try Dive class because it is all about having fun while trying a new, mind-blowing experience. The instructors love seeing first time divers with faces lighting up with pure enjoyment. I still remember my first time breathing underwater and I want to share that experience with anyone willing to give something new a try. A course like this is hands-down the best part of being an instructor at Catalina Sea Camp. This class is an ideal choice for our younger campers (12 to 14 years old) as it tends to make campers feel more comfortable for future certification courses. The course is not a certification but an equivalent to a “resort course”. The campers will experience a total of 6 water sessions: 2 skin dives and 4 scuba dives with a maximum depth of 25 feet.

We hope you are ready to give something new and amazing a try at Catalina Sea Camp. Register for camp before December 31st, 2014 and you will save up to $255. Click this link to sign up now: www.catalinaseacamp.org/manage-account/

Happy Diving!

Guinness World Record Oarfish

On October 13th, 2013 a staff member at Catalina Island Marine Institute was snorkeling when a large eye floated into her vision. Upon further investigation our staff discovered this amazing 18 foot long Oarfish. The 2015 Guinness Book of World Records named the Oarfish as the longest bony fish to be recorded. Due to the rarity of this long Oarfish we invited staff from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to join us in studying this incredible creature.

The three visitors arrived on November 7th to study the Oarfish’s otolith, vertebrate and full body X-ray. The names and findings from the visitors is as follows:

Mrs. Bev Macewicz
Southwest Fisheries Science Center NOAA
8901 LaJolla, CA 92037
858-546-7107
bev.macewicz@noaa.gov

Mr. Terry Snow
Konica Minolta Medical Imaging USA
National Sales Support Manager
Commercial Marketing Team
973-557-1790
terry.snow@konicaminolta.us

Steve Midway PhD
PA Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit
406 Forest Resources
University Park, PA 16802
814-865-6646
svm30@psu.edu

Immediate Findings:
The head section of the oarfish (~36 inches) was the first section X-rayed from multiple angles to find the otolith cavity. The cavity was found in between the two orbital cavities. Upon dissection, the head was full of gelatinous flesh and cartilage. Little bone was found within the head. The otoliths were found beneath the brain cavity. We believe one otolith was recovered from the Oarfish. There are normally two otoliths but the Oarfish otoliths are only a few millimeters big. So, the fact that we might have found one otolith is amazing. NOAA was unable to find the otolith of the Oarfish that washed up in Oceanside. Once Steve gets back to his lab, he will confirm whether or not we actually retrieved an otolith. We took a picture of what we found in plankton lab.

There were four vertebrate taken from the back end of the head section. The vertebrate were hard bone on one end and soft/cartilaginous on the other. The vertebrate were filled with gelatinous sacks. X-rays were taken of the four vertebrate. To better understand their shape and function After the dissection, X-rays were taken of all seven Oarfish sections ranging from 24’’ to 36’’. The beginning of the vertebrate column began within the head section posterior of the two orbital cavities. The X-rays were taken using a Konica Minolta portable X-ray machine. This was an impressive piece of machinery. Terry hopes to hatch all of the sections together to form a full scale X-ray of the Oarfish. We should hear back from everybody in the near future about any more findings.

Thank you Guinness World Record for including us in your record books!

WELCOME TO THE SEA CAMPER BLOG

We would like to thank you for visiting our blog. Catalina Sea Camp is a hands-on marine science program with an emphasis on ocean exploration. Our classes and activities are designed to inspire students toward future success in their academic and personal pursuits. This blog is intended to provide you with up-to-date news and information about our camp programs, as well as current science and ocean happenings. This blog has been created by our staff who have at minimum a Bachelors Degree in Marine Science or related subject. We encourage you to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Vine to see even more of our interesting science and ocean information. Feel free to leave comments, questions, or share our blog with others. Please visit www.catalinaseacamp.org for additional information. Happy Reading!

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