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Posted: Friday, March 6, 2009 10:00 pm

Who: The City of Lodi - Storm Drain Detective students went on a marine research vessel trip on Veteran's Day, sampling the marine life of the San Francisco Bay. These students from Lodi currently monitor the Mokelumne River for stormwater effects on water quality of the river. Tokay High School, Lodi High School and Lodi Academy students, teachers and parents attended.

Destination: The group boarded a S.F. Bay Marine Science Institute research vessel in Richmond, then traveled to the bay, northeast of Golden Gate Bridge.

Why did we go? Thanks to CALFED grant funds, a Bernard Osher Foundation scholarship and additional support form the City of Lodi Public Works, the field trip was made available. Students enjoyed the Veteran's Day holiday, and enriching themselves with a hands-on learning experience. Students were divided into four groups, then circulated through the vessel research stations. Water samples from different depths were tested for temperature and salinity. Plankton life was captured and identified using a TV-projected microscope. Bay mud was grabbed with a giant claw and wash-screened for benthic creatures. And finally, students worked an otter net, hauling in a sample of fish from the bay.

Was it a trip from heaven or from that other place? It was a trip to the end of the northern California fresh water river system, where the Mokelumne meets the Delta, then the bay, then the Pacific Ocean and forming the inland estuary. Definitely closer to heaven.

What was the best part of your trip? Meeting our three groovy, young marine biology staffers, putting San Francisco Bay mud on the tips of our noses and hauling in an otter trawling net full of squirming, iridescent bay fish. Also, touching flounder, Pacific Herring and jelly fish. We also saw the return of the plankton, which hadn't been found by earlier tours because of winter storm runoff. We had no idea there was so much life in the estuary's shallow, murky waters!

Would you go back? Absolutely - as long as funding is available! Thank you CALFED, BO Foundation, City of Lodi, teachers and parents for the privilege of seeing the wonderful under water world of the San Francisco Bay.

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