Ford shared his expertise and enthusiasm, shedding light on the fascinating world that exists beneath the ocean’s surface
John Ford, renowned marine biologist, captivated the students at Woodland Public Schools’ Lewis River Academy with an insightful presentation and hands-on discovery of real marine life bones on Wednesday, April 26. After nearly 30 years of visiting Woodland annually, this visit marked his return to the district after a nearly three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ford shared his expertise and enthusiasm, shedding light on the fascinating world that exists beneath the ocean’s surface. Ford’s vast experience studying marine creatures, ranging from giant whales to the smallest tide pool inhabitants, illustrated the diversity and interconnectivity of marine life. Throughout his presentation, Ford emphasized the vastness and significance of marine life. “With 9 out of 10 known animal species residing in the ocean, safeguarding this delicate ecosystem is vital for the well-being of our planet,” he explained.
Ford also highlighted the importance of preserving the natural beauty and untouched areas of Washington and Oregon’s coastlines. “These regions serve as critical habitats for numerous marine species,” he said. “Many visitors to our beaches do not realize that these are preserved habitats, and that humans must be responsible to protect these fragile environments for generations to come.”
Ford’s presentation brought the underwater world to life through vivid descriptions and captivating visuals. He introduced students to a variety of sea animals, including the peculiar sea slugs, such as the sea lemon. Ford shared his fascination with the rare and largest chiton species, known as the Gun Boot, which can only be found in the Pacific Northwest. These introductions sparked curiosity and encouraged students to delve deeper into the wonders of marine life.
Ford highlighted the differences between sea otters and river otters, emphasizing that sea otters exclusively swim on their backs, unlike their river counterparts. “If you ever see an otter in the Columbia River swimming on its back, be sure to give us a call as we have never had sea otters make their way into our rivers,” he joked. Ford pointed out that since sea otters have no blubber for insulation against cold water temperature, their fur is critical in keeping them warm in the ocean. “A single square inch of a sea otter’s body contains one million hairs,” he explained.
The presentation also shed light on the delicate balance within marine ecosystems and the impact of human actions. Ford taught students about the harbor seal’s high-fat-content milk which aids in the rapid growth of seal pups within two weeks. He emphasized the importance of not disturbing seal pups, “Human interaction can cause significant harm to these young animals,” he said. “Many beach visitors think these seal pups need help, however, simply by picking them up, a human cause these pups to have heart attacks out of fear.” Ford’s message urged students to approach marine life with respect and understanding, recognizing that their actions can have far-reaching consequences.
Following his presentation, Ford encouraged the students to have hands-on experiences with a variety of bones, cartilage and other props he brought along. “Seeing first-hand exactly how big these bones really are can truly widen students’ eyes to the sheer size and expanse of our world’s vast ocean,” he said.
About Woodland Public Schools’ Lewis River Academy
Lewis River Academy (LRA), a Woodland Public Schools program serving home-schooled students in grades K-8, offers an alternative learning environment for students who want to participate in a different approach to learning using a combination of in-class curriculum and home-schooling. “The mission and vision of LRA is to be an extension for our homeschooling students by offering online and in-person alternatives to traditional school,” said Jake Hall, Executive Director of Learning Supports and Alternatives for Woodland Public Schools who also serves as the program’s principal.
Students and families interested in enrolling in LRA should contact Hall. Interested students and their parents will meet with Hall to discuss how LRA works and whether the program fits the family’s interests and approaches to their student’s learning. “We want to determine that the LRA program is a good fit for the students and families during the intake overview,” explained Hall. “If LRA is the right fit, the student can enroll and get started right away.”
To learn more about the program, visit www.woodlandschools.org/lra
Learn more about how Woodland Public Schools educates students and serves the community by visiting the dedicated news webpage at www.woodlandschools.org/news/wsd
Information provided by Woodland School District.
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