Cape Hatteras Secondary School of Coastal Studies Partnership
UNC-CSI is assisting Cape Hatteras Secondary School (CHSS) in their curricular redesign since being designated a School of Coastal Studies by the New Schools Initiative. UNC-CSI provides programming on estuarine ecology to 6-8th grade students throughout the school year as well as technical expertise and supervision on coastal studies themed educational projects.
The students of Cape Hatteras Secondary School, under the supervision of UNC-CSI staff, have been raising both fish and oysters in an aquaculture program that incorporates NC State Curriculum Standards into a hands-on science project.
Throughout the 2007-2008 school year, the students fed and reared black sea bass and flounder. At the end of the school year, the black sea bass were tagged and released
with NC Division of Marine Fisheries Tags. In addition, the flounder were released on a newly created oyster reef located in the sound behind CHSS. This project explored the study of ecology, chemistry, biology, engineering and physics in a program that encourages coastal careers in marine science and aquaculture.
In addition to fish, the students have been learning about the important role that oysters play in our estuaries. As part of their studies, the students spawned and cared for larval oysters in their onsite oyster hatchery. Each year the students collect broodstock (adult oysters) and condition them for spawning by feeding them algae and slowly raising the water temperature. Once conditioned, the students strip spawn the oysters and fertilize the eggs under the microscope. once fertilized, the oyster will go through a 21 day larval life cycle before they are ready to be “set” on oyster shell and can be placed in the sound.
A Living Laboratory
With permission of the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF), UNC-CSI created a 3/4 acre research sanctuary behind the school at CHSS. A 1000 square foot oyster reef has been created within this sanctuary from bagged oyster shells in collaborative partnership between the UNC Coastal Studies Institute, NCDMF Oyster Shell Recycling program, the Nature Conservancy and Cape Hatteras Secondary School (CHSS).
The constructed oyster reef will provide filtration, shoreline stabilization and critical habitat in addition to offering a wide range of opportunities for the students of Cape Hatteras Secondary School to study both the growth of the reef and the marine life that are attracted to it. Located just steps from CHSS, the reef will be an accessible living laboratory for student study. The teachers and students of CHSS are interested in charting the growth rate of their newly created reef while comparing the growth and recruitment of oyster spat on a variety of different substrates. In addition, students will be collecting data on the impact the habitat has on water quality and the marine
organism diversity found in the surrounding area.
A Living Laboratory- Part 2
In the summer of 2009 the students of CHSS took steps to continue their study on oyster recruitment by assisting UNC CSI in preparation of a substrate study. Twelve research plots were created in the 3/4 acre research sanctuary behind the school. Six plots were made with a meter square of oyster shell held in place by bagged oysters, and six plots were made of limestone marl which was surrounded by bagged marl and boulder marl. These plots were placed in areas lacking submerged aquatic vegetation, and were placed in sets of two (one of each type) with varying depths and angles in reference to the shoreline. The students will now have the opportunity to compare and contrast the two main materials that are used in oyster restoration projects.
This research project, performed under the supervision of the UNC Coastal Studies Institute, will yield valuable data while preparing the students of CHSS with 21st century job skills. Data generated from this project could be used to better inform decision makers on the value and impacts of oyster reefs and the effectiveness of practices used in oyster reef restoration.