Tag Archives: Camp

Thank You, Thank You & Thanks!


Now that Spring 2015 is over, we want to thank all of you who made this season such a success! To every administrator, teacher, and parent who helped organize a CIMI trip or came as a chaperone this season: thank you for sacrificing time from your own busy schedules and families to make a difference in the life of your students. We could never run this program without you! A special thank you is also needed this year for all the schools who faced changes as a result of the temporary closing of Fox Landing. Your flexibility and positivity under challenging circumstances was greatly appreciated.

Every instructor at CIMI can readily tell you a moment that defines why they do the job they do: the student who swims in the ocean for the first time and can’t stop smiling during snorkel; the student who enthusiastically pets the shark he was so afraid of a few minutes before; the student who cries before night snorkel, does it anyway, and comes out of the water enthusiastically exclaiming that it was the best thing ever. Every season at CIMI is full of these moments, and they are what make being an instructor so worthwhile. So to every student who tried something new this Spring, who faced down a fear, who asked a question that stumped us and had us searching for answers: thank you! It’s because of you that we have the best job in the world. We hope you had as much fun as we did!

We’ll be back in the fall, but for those who can’t wait that long, there are still some spots open in our summer program, Catalina Sea Camp! Go to www.catalinaseacamp.org for more details.


Happy Earth Day!

Earth day is an annual event on April 22, which was first celebrated in 1970. The idea came from Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, CA. He was inspired by the anti-war movement and realized he could include air and water pollution issues into the national political agenda. Coordinated globally, earth day is now celebrated in more than 192 countries each year. Earth day celebrates planet earth in different ways. Awareness being a big component of the celebration, it exposes important environmental issues the plant is facing.

sea lion copy

Man made marine pollution is becoming a large issue on our planet. We use the ocean for 90% of our international trader and 50% of it from communications yet we have explored less than 10% of it. One way to combat the effects we have on the ocean is to utilize reusable materials. Reusable materials from grocery bags to water bottles, and eliminating single use plastic can help minimize environmental impacts.

Another way to celebrate Earth Day is to go on an aquatic adventure such as kayaking, snorkeling or even jump on a whale watching boat. If your passionate about your local beach you part take in a beach clean up, many are set up within a marine conservation organization on Earth Day. Or you could help launch a community garden or volunteer to create awareness and education on important issues facing our planet Earth.

trees copy

Spring Wildflowers on Catalina Island

Spring is the season of new growth and blossoming life. Visiting CIMI during the spring feels dreamlike as you walk through the trails flecked with wildflowers of all shapes and sizes. Catalina Island is home to over 400 native plant species, and 200 non-native plant species. There are even 7 endemic plant species only found on the island, including the Catalina Ironwood and the Catalina Liveforever.

Since southern California does not get copious amounts of rain, our ecosystem is dominated by chaparral foliage. This ecoregion is characterized by woody shrubs, heat tolerant flora, and drought resistant plants. Many of the plants on Catalina Island have beneficial adaptations, making them perfectly equipped to live in this dry and rocky environment. One example is a flower called theBlue Hyacinth (Dichelostemma capitatum). Blue Hyacinth grow well in dry climates because of its ability to colonize after a fire. Their seedpods can lie dormant for over a decade until a fire scorches the plants around it; once the other plants have been removed, the Blue Hyacinth can quickly spread.

Though the wildflowers on Catalina are tough and resilient, they can’t do it all alone; angiosperms (flowering plants) are dependent on animals to carry their pollen around the island as part of the fertilization process. During the day, flowers open up wide and produce nectar to attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and more. When these animals brush up against the anther (the male part of the flower), they collect pollen on their bodies, and as they travel from flower to flower, the animals deliver the pollen to other plants’ stigmas (the female part of the flower). This process fertilizes the angiosperms, allowing them to germinate and spread.

You may have noticed that many flowers fold up their petals at night. Are they doing this as a way to tuck themselves in for bed? Or is there a scientific reason for this? This behavior, called nyctinasty, is common in many angiosperms – including Catalina Island’s Bush Poppy and Mariposa Lily. Scientists aren’t sure exactly why this happens, but there are many theories. As mentioned before, these flowers are dependent on biological pollinators to move their pollen. Many of these animals are asleep at night, meaning that the flowers have no reason to stay open. Some think that closing the flowers is a way to keep morning dew from dampening the pollen, making it too wet and heavy to stick to pollinators. Another theory is that flowers fold up in order to reduce the risk of freezing. Still others think that by closing, the flowers are conserving energy and odor for the next day. Do you have any other ideas why flowers might close at night?

 Written by: Max Veenema

Encelia Californica – Bush Sunflower

Bush Sunflowers on Lion's

Dichelostemma Pulchellum – Blue Hyacinth

Blue Dick

Calochortus Catalinae- Catalina Mariposa Lily (white flower at the bottom of photo, also shows cimi students kayaking at Cherry Cove)

2015-02-25 09.05.46

Eschscholzia Californica – California Poppy

California Poppy (Heather Peterson)



Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

A Poem in honor of Dr. Seuss by Max Veenema

One fish, two fish, here’s to you fish

Every once in awhile comes along a great writer, they are witty, and sharp. Their words couldn’t be brighter.

One of those people, has shaped many a mind.His books are enchanting, and funny, and kind.

Dr. Seuss is his name and today is his day, so follow his words – Go outside! Play! Discovery, innovation, and adventure he implored. Go explore the world and you’ll never get bored.

There are many places to go, many places to be, like on top of a mountain or deep under the sea.

Though he made up lots of things, like Thing One and Thing Two, his words still live on and they are truer than true.

To leave you with a message from this poem, so it’s not misunderstood, I’ll let the rhymer speak for himself when he said “fun is good”.

So Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss! You are a constant inspiration. You have shaped all us here beyond your wildest imagination.

Hike Seuss Kayak Seuss Squid Seuss

BBC News and our Guinness World Record Oarfish

UPDATE 1/22/2015: For more information on our Oarfish check out this story from the BBC News: http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150115-mystery-of-the-real-life-sea-serpent

On October 13th, 2013 a staff member at Catalina Island Marine Institute was snorkeling when a large eye floated into her vision. Upon further investigation our staff discovered this amazing 18 foot long Oarfish. The 2015 Guinness Book of World Records named the Oarfish as the longest bony fish to be recorded. Due to the rarity of this long Oarfish we invited staff from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to join us in studying this incredible creature.

The three visitors arrived on November 7th to study the Oarfish’s otolith, vertebrate and full body X-ray. The names and findings from the visitors is as follows:

Mrs. Bev Macewicz
Southwest Fisheries Science Center NOAA
8901 LaJolla, CA 92037

Mr. Terry Snow
Konica Minolta Medical Imaging USA
National Sales Support Manager
Commercial Marketing Team

Steve Midway PhD
PA Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit
406 Forest Resources
University Park, PA 16802

Immediate Findings:
The head section of the oarfish (~36 inches) was the first section X-rayed from multiple angles to find the otolith cavity. The cavity was found in between the two orbital cavities. Upon dissection, the head was full of gelatinous flesh and cartilage. Little bone was found within the head. The otoliths were found beneath the brain cavity. We believe one otolith was recovered from the Oarfish. There are normally two otoliths but the Oarfish otoliths are only a few millimeters big. So, the fact that we might have found one otolith is amazing. NOAA was unable to find the otolith of the Oarfish that washed up in Oceanside. Once Steve gets back to his lab, he will confirm whether or not we actually retrieved an otolith. We took a picture of what we found in plankton lab.

There were four vertebrate taken from the back end of the head section. The vertebrate were hard bone on one end and soft/cartilaginous on the other. The vertebrate were filled with gelatinous sacks. X-rays were taken of the four vertebrate. To better understand their shape and function After the dissection, X-rays were taken of all seven Oarfish sections ranging from 24’’ to 36’’. The beginning of the vertebrate column began within the head section posterior of the two orbital cavities. The X-rays were taken using a Konica Minolta portable X-ray machine. This was an impressive piece of machinery. Terry hopes to hatch all of the sections together to form a full scale X-ray of the Oarfish. We should hear back from everybody in the near future about any more findings.

Thank you Guinness World Record for including us in your record books!


We would like to thank you for visiting our blog. Catalina Island Marine Institute is a hands-on marine science program with an emphasis on ocean exploration. Our classes and activities are designed to inspire students toward future success in their academic and personal pursuits. This blog is intended to provide you with up-to-date news and information about our camp programs, as well as current science and ocean happenings. This blog has been created by our staff who have at least a Bachelors Degree usually in marine science or related subjects. We encourage you to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Vine to see even more of our interesting science and ocean information. Feel free to leave comments, questions, or share our blog with others. Please visit www.cimi.org for additional information. Happy Reading!