I finally found a hole in my schedule and made it to the Harbor WildWatch program at the Skansie House in Gig Harbor for one of its Science Saturday or Science Sunday events.
“We’ve had an intern available to teach about plankton, and on Sundays our intern conducts a squid dissection,” explained WildWatch’s Jennifer Beard.
The programs, which begin at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., are available to attend on a drop-in basis. The weekend science program is geared specifically towards children.
“For September, we have Science Sundays at 1 and 2 p.m. only,” Beard said.
The Science Saturdays were offered in August, but the intern that ran that program returned to college.
My visit was on Sunday, Sept. 11, a truly gorgeous, warm, sunbathed day. It was quiet. Too quiet. WildWatch intern Franco R. Ramos, a University of Puget Sound biologist, was ready to reveal some of the wonders of marine life but there were no kids on board for the squid dissection adventure.
Ramos originally hails from the sunny archipelago of the Philippines and came to Washington to study biology at the University of Puget Sound. He said he liked it so much here that he decided to stay a couple more years.
“A lover of the natural world, I’m interested in plants, animals, and all things in between,” he said.
Always happy to share his enthusiasm for nature, on Sundays, Ramos works with Harbor WildWatch, as he puts it, “to give free lessons on our local denizens of the deep to any Skansie House visitors.”
Stepping outside, I spotted five youngsters and three adults and just knew they needed to be invited to Skansie House. They readily accepted. Within minutes, assisted by their parents, Ramos had the wide-eyed kids in surgical gowns and pulling on rubber gloves.
In a subsequent email, mom Sylvia Stewart, of Gig Harbor, wrote, “Thank you so much for allowing our children to participate in the squid dissection yesterday. They had such a great time and learned so much!”
Under Ramos’ gentle but firm direction, the kids, initially a bit apprehensive, experienced growing enthusiasm and curiosity and fully engaged in the operation.
Darren Stewart said, “I really liked cutting into the squid! I learned that it has three hearts and that the top is the body, not the head.”
His sister, Ella Stewart, liked “touching the beak and seeing the gills!”
To Gig Harbor 8-year-old Emily Norris, “Everything was awesome!”
Another of the mothers, Angie Costa, emailed me to say, “It was such fun meeting you and having the kids see squids so close!”
Her son, Parker, “liked taking out the squid pen. It looks like a feather and we wrote our names with squid ink.” Piper, Parker’s sister, “enjoyed seeing the ink sack,” and sister Phoebe, “felt like a real scientist.”
Ramos kindly shared the following views of other young potential marine life enthusiasts, kids of the Lee family visiting from Portland:
“I liked using the squid pen,” said 6-year-old Lauren. Owen, 8, “liked using the squid pen and taking the eyeball out.”
Cousin Nathaniel Lee, 8, from Chicago, “really liked taking the eyeball out.” Ryan, 10, “liked dissecting the beak and writing with the squid pen. The teacher was so nice! Thank you!”
And thank you, Ryan, for sharing your gratitude.
Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.