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A Holiday Visit to a Gloucester Middle School

In what has become an annual tradition before Christmas break, NOAA Fisheries larger than life inflatable Atlantic Sturgeon visited a local school! This year, Edith Carson from our Protected Resources Division, accompanied the inflatable fish, visiting 10 sixth grade classes at the O’Maley Innovation Middle School in Gloucester, Massachusetts over three days. Her purpose -- to share what she knows about  Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon.

Carson also engaged the 200 students in several activities. To help students understand natal homing, one activity demonstrated how sturgeon use their sense of smell to detect the rivers they were born in, so they can spawn. Pretending to be paleontologists, students explored sturgeon scute fossils, collecting and analyzing data from the fossils. Students also enjoyed a scavenger hunt to test their knowledge about sturgeon.  

For more information on sturgeon, lesson plans and learning activities visit our SCUTES webpage.

To wrap up the week of learning, NOAA Fisheries’ Colleen Coogan participated in a panel discussion on commercial fisheries management, and the effects of the poor condition of key New England groundfish stocks on the Gloucester fishing community. She was joined, on the panel, by a retired commercial fisherman, two active commercial fishermen, and a member of the Gloucester Chamber of Commerce. The students posed excellent (and challenging) questions to the panelists, reflecting their understanding of the importance of the fishing industry to their community.