Students are each given dipnets and allowed to try to catch creatures living in the channel. One of the most important environmental roles of a salt marsh habitat is that of a nursery for juvenile animals; they hatch and develop in protected tidal channels until they are large enough to migrate to the Bay. In this activity, students get to catch and examine those animals.
We typically find snails, crabs, mussels, barnacles, anemones and juvenile bay gobies, a bottom-dwelling fish. However, students have pulled up things as unusual as baby flounders, baby sculpin, and even ctenophores! The marine life we find changes each day with the tide and the seasons.
After everyone has had a chance to catch channel critters, we gather around the dipnet tubs and examine what we caught. Students are allowed to hold any animals that are not too fragile. This activity can get very muddy, so students may want to consider bringing rain boots to wear specifically for dipnetting.