Feiro Marine Life Center Programs
Feiro is open on weekends during the winter months and open seven days per week during the busy summer season. Over twenty thousand tourists visit Feiro each summer, plus over three thousand school students from the north Olympic Peninsula. The board of directors adopted a mission for FMLC "to foster the understanding of and a commitment to the health of the marine environment and related watersheds of the Olympic Peninsula, and their importance to its communities." Our vision to be "the go-to place on the north Olympic Peninsula for marine education" is coming to fruition where "Feiro Marine Life Center helps people see beneath the surface and become stewards of our shared marine environment."
The tanks at the Feiro Marine Life Center are gurgling and sweating, the 45 degree water siphoned from Port Angeles Harbor at odds with a warm summer morning. The marine life within them seem static until center coordinator Bob Campbell points out a scallop filtering plankton and several starry flounders and great sculpins blanketed in sand. "If you stand in front of the tanks long enough, you'll be amazed at what comes out - not because it's become more active, but because you are more aware," Campbell said. "Everything you see lives in the water here," Campbell began. "Our focus is education for everyone on what lives in our amazing biodiversity. We have a task here - to make as many people aware of this environment so they will take better care of it."
Feiro is open to the public seven days a week Memorial Day to Labor Day and open weekends during the winter months. However, if staff is around, the doors will always be open and anyone is invited to drop in.
Feiro Marine Life Center provides education programs for all levels of students including the general public, preschool, K-12, and college level. The education programs are developed using NOAA's Ocean Literacy Concepts .
"Ocean literacy is an understanding of the ocean's influence on you - and your influence on the ocean."
These successful programs involve hands-on activities including a beach seine and a plankton tow, work with microscopes in the laboratory to study specimens, and a directed study of the marine life displayed in the Feiro. The programs are also aligned with state education requirements. Feiro Marine Life Center naturalists visit classrooms and prepare and implement day long marine environment studies at the center. Feiro educators also work with the professors at the community college to develop support programming for college curriculum. Feiro Marine Life Center works with a number of partners to develop and implement education programs. These include, but are not limited to, Olympic National Park, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, Clallam County Marine Resource Council, Clallam Conservation District, City of Port Angeles, NatureBriege and the local school districts.
Feiro Marine Life Center is establishing a Citizen Science Program to offer opportunities to students, and citizens to work closely with science professionals and scientific organizations on a number of projects. Citizen Science is defined as a contract between scientists and citizens to collect, verify, analyze and report out rigorous, high quality data of direct relevance to natural resource management, conservation, and environmental health and quality. Feiro's Citizen Science program will provide the groundwork to support decades of future citizen science projects and build a foundation on which to increase public awareness of environmental issues. With natural resource managers and scientists facing increasing demands and shrinking budgets, citizen science has the potential not only to enhance public stewardship of our area, but also to provide credible, cost-effective, base-line data collection for management and scientific application. Projects relevant to current issues, relevant to the purpose and mission of Feiro, and discussed among the local scientific community include, but are not limited to:
- Plankton composition, abundance and seasonal variability,
- Megalops abundance in PA Harbor as it relates to health of crab in Puget Sound,
- "Bio-blitz" for composition and abundance of the intertidal from the mouth of the Elwha River to FMLC (Port Angeles Harbor).
Feiro Marine Life Center is located strategically in the Port Angeles Harbor area where a number of significant ecological and environmental changes will occur over the next few years. These include the cleanup of the toxic Rayonier Mill site, the removal of the Elwha River Dams and the ensuing restoration, and the effort on the Combined Sewer Outflows (CSOs) entering the Port Angeles Harbor adjacent to Feiro.
Feiro also works closely with ECO Net and the Puget Sound Partnership in outreach and education to help citizens understand that their local actions are reflected in the health of not just the Port Angeles Harbor and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but the health of Puget Sound and the health of the ocean.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
NOW, the acronym for North Olympic Watershed is a collaborative venture which represents the educational efforts of some of the Olympic Peninsula's best resources. Led by educators from NatureBridge and Feiro Marine Life Center and supported by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and Olympic National Park, fourth through eighth grade students from Port Angeles, Crescent and Sequim School Districts are provided field science opportunities right here on the North Olympic Peninsula. Through this unique program, students visit their regional watersheds in diverse locations, from the pristine upper watersheds found in Olympic National Park to the managed and altered watersheds that feed into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The curriculum meets Washington State Grade Level Expectations (GLEs) and national standards, as well as NOAA'S Ocean Literacy Principles. The elementary NOW Science Program provides an opportunity for students in grades four and five to learn about their local watershed and develop a better understanding of the relationship between ecological conditions and human land use. "Our question to elementary students is: -What is the health of Peabody Creek?" Moriarty explained. "Students study both biotic and abiotic factors which are key to healthy streams. Working with Olympic National Park interpreters and Feiro staff as they walk along Peabody Creek, they observe the state of the riparian zone and the creek substrate. They look at what types of insects live in the stream, if any at all, and they also conduct a number of tests to help them determine the stream's health. Some of these tests include pH, turbidity, temperature and dissolved oxygen. They even identify whether there are harmful detergents in the stream.
"When we look at the greater goal of stewardship," Moriarty continued, "we need to have simple things for individuals to do that are do-able and that don't overwhelm us. Picking up your dog's waste, washing your car on the grass, keeping oils and paints out of storm drains and limiting the use of fertilizers are all small steps we each can take toward keeping our streams, rivers and ultimately our ocean, clean. Working with the Olympic National Park, the City of Port Angeles, the Clallam County Conservation District, the Feiro and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, shows we all have the same goal - to educate our community about the place we live in order for each of us to become better stewards.
We can all work together on behalf of our students' education to make this happen."Feiro Marine Life Center has reached capacity in staffing and infrastructure. It has grown, in the past five years, to provide needed educational and visitor opportunities on the waterfront and is in the position to be a vital part of the redevelopment of the Port Angeles Waterfront. Feiro has entered a formal partnership with the City of Port Angeles and NOAA's Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary to look at a shared marine campus. Not only will this support the mission of the agencies involved, but it will bring important economic development to our community. Feiro requires capacity building support to be fully engaged in this important partnership.