Feiro Marine Life Center volunteers see the sea — up close and personal
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Bob Campbell, facility coordinator of the Feiro Marine Life Center, displays the remnants of a purple sea urchin found at Salt Creek Recreation Area during a marine biology class held at the Clallam County park Saturday, during this week’s extreme low tides. -- Photo by Arwyn Rice/Peninsula Daily News

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The Feiro Marine Life Center is preparing for the 2012 summer season, which begins in less than two weeks for Port Angeles’ pierside attraction.

The center began it’s e Saturday with a field trip for volunteers who will staff the center and marine biology students from the center’s spring tidepool class.

The trip to the tidepools was a reward for 7 weeks of coursework for the students, who ranged in age from 19 to some in their 70s, said Bob Campbell, facility coordinator of the science center.

The Marine Science Center, located on City Pier, features displays and touch-tanks with native marine creatures and plants that inhabit the Strait of Juan de Fuca, classroom space for marine science programs, and a small laboratory.

The Feiro Marine Science Center, which has four paid employees and 30 active volunteers, is currently open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

On June 26 the center will switch to summer season hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.

Admission is $4 per adult, $1 for children age 4-17, and children 3 and younger are free.

The paths to the tidepools, located at the tip of Tongue Point, is usually submerged under six feet of water, but Saturday’s tide revealed hidden treasures to the class members.

Taking advantage of unusually low tides, members of the class located and identified several different types of starfish, snails, worms, sponges, crab, seaweed and even discovered small fish trapped in tidepools that ranged from a few inches to a few feet in depth.

Some members of Saturday’s class were veteran volunteers brushing up on their marine biology, some members planned to become science center volunteer naturalists, and others were there simply to learn more about marine science.

Gery Gudgell, 64, of Port Angeles, was one of the potential volunteers, who picked his way across the rocks to search for sea creatures.

“I’m newly retired and I love the ocean,” Gudgell said.

Gudgell hiked to the tip of Tongue Point, searched under rocks and moved seaweed to see what might be hiding under the broad leaves.

“It’s been great and I want to get some more of it,” he said.

Feiro’s tidepool marine science class is offered once a year, ahead of the summer season.

Campbell said his main job is to keep the pumps running at the center, but he still enjoys teaching when he gets the chance.

This year two classes were offered, which increased the number of participants.

“We usually get about six volunteers from each class, he said.

Campbell said he thought the current group has more potential volunteer naturalists than previous classes.

The marine science center requires volunteer naturalists to complete training in marine biology, and a take an additional marine center-specific class focused on interacting with science center guests and their children, he said.

Some of them are already volunteer during off-hours, assisting with tank cleaning and other behind the scenes work that needs to be done to maintain the center.

For more information on the Feiro Marine Life Center, call 360-417-6254 or visit the website at www.feiromarinelifecenter.org.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345 ext. 5070 or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 06. 2012 6:27PM
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