EarthEcho's partner, SoundWaters is a recognized and trusted organization locally and in the Long Island Sound region. The SoundWaters Research Intensive (SRI) program is an exciting opportunity for high school students to learn and build real science research experiences and skills. SRI builds critical college and career skills in students through real-life field study and progressively more advanced work in the laboratory, on the water and along the shore. Using sophisticated equipment on their research vessel and in the lab, students designed and conducted original marine science research in water quality, human impact, animal populations and diversity. Summaries of the youth lead projects include:

Lila Debano, Freya Evans

  • Project Title: Salt Marsh Study

This project was a test of methodology and feasibility study of growing Spartina alterniflora (salt marsh) in an indoor setting. Seeds were harvested from early October until November and set into cold stratification. Students found a higher germination rate than anticipated of 30.1%. Growth rates were monitored weekly. Ultimately the students effectively grew salt marsh with the goal of eventually out-planting to supplement depleted marshes.

(left to right, Owen, Freya, Lila, Lindsay) Measuring and recording growth rates of salt marsh

Lindsay Taylor

  • Project Title: Catalase Activity of 3 Distinct Locations in Stamford Harbor

This project utilized catalase enzyme as a proxy to test the number of potential pollutants in the water at three locations in Stamford Harbor. Hydrogen peroxide added to water samples from each site increased the dissolved oxygen content. By measuring the increase in dissolved oxygen, the amount of catalase activity is also measured. The locations vary by surrounding structures e.g., wastewater treatment plant, as well as freshwater inputs, and tidal flow. The project found substantial differences in the amount of enzymatic activity between sites.

Shreyans Daga

  • Project Title: DIY Manta Trawl Build

The project was meant to create a valuable, but normally expensive tool for sampling microplastics utilizing commonly found and lower cost items. The student was able to construct a piece of equipment that typically costs $400-$3000. The building utilized wood and PVC pipe in lieu of welded metal, in initial tests towing behind the Research Vessel the trawl performed perfectly. The equipment will be used by future students to conduct microplastic trawls on Long Island Sound.

Matt Getza, Yahya Deggouj

  • Project Title: Boccuzzi Park Rocky Intertidal Zone Survey

This project conducted research on the species, number, sex, and size of crab populations in the rocky intertidal zone. The project found that most crabs along our shores are invasive Hemigrapsus sanguineus or the Asian Shore Crab. Of the invasive crabs more of them are found to be female than male. This project builds upon a previous project where crabs were surveyed at a previous site and the native species Eurypanopeus depressus was parasitized by an invasive parasitic barnacle. The parasite was absent in crabs in this survey.

(Matt left, Yahya right pictured with kelp on our kelp farm)

Chloe Stranzl, Paula Martinez

  • Project Title: Spring 2023 Stamford Harbor Benthic Trawl Survey

This project sets out to capture, identify, count, and measure the number of benthic animals in Stamford Harbor. These trawls can be used to actively monitor the population of animals in Stamford Harbor as well as to denote those animals that are warm or cold adapted. As climate change continues the trend has been an increase in warm adapted species in Long Island Sound and a decrease in cold adapted species. The study found only warm adapted species of fish, as well as an invasive tunicate species living on the bottom. In total 112 individuals were captured, representing 12 different species of benthic animals.

Audrey Salami, Taylor Fochs

  • Project Title: Boccuzzi Park Marine Debris Survey

This project seeks to conduct research on the type of marine debris deposited on the shore of Stamford Harbor and in what volume. The shore was divided into ten, five-meter transects and three randomly generated transects were analyzed per day. The study found that most of the debris was composed of plastic. Hard plastic fragments were measured by their longest two points to establish size. The work found that many of the plastic pieces if broken into two would be categorized as microplastic.

(Taylor with a porgy)

Owen Wyman

  • Project Title: Temperature vs. Chlorophyll at 3 Sites in Stamford Harbor

This project utilized a multiparameter sonde to sample sites in Stamford Harbor for their water quality. Many parameters were taken but the primary focus of this work was temperature and chlorophyll. The work saw that during the spring months temperatures rose consistently as expected. Each site displayed differences in temperature. Many sites also showed decreasing chlorophyll amounts over the same time period. This work contributes to the important job of taking consistent water quality data within Stamford Harbor all times of year.

All students gained insights into factors contributing to climate change as well as the impact on their local environment. They had access to their own professional-grade research materials, equipment and space in the Harbor Center lab. They learned to evaluate and map sites, identify water quality parameters to provide meaningful data and to set up animal population studies to test their hypotheses about varying growth rates and conditions. Thank you to our partners at SoundWaters and high school students for taking action to protect and restore our ocean planet.