Shawn Fujioka, SBCCOG project coordinator, makes friends with a Pacific Rock Crab.

In Los Angeles, water that runs off streets—and everything in it, including trash, pesticides, fertilizers, soap, oil and pet waste—goes into storm drains that eventually empty into the ocean. One of SBCCOG’s partners, the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, has teamed up with the Think Earth Environmental Education Foundation as a sponsor of its Think Watershed program to help educate local students about the watershed’s impact on the marine environment.

The program’s centerpiece is a field trip on a floating lab, which is run by the Los Angeles County Office of Education. On board a three-hour cruise in Long Beach or Los Angeles Harbor, students from upper elementary to middle school engage in hands-on marine science learning activities. As the boat motors through the harbor, students observe and discuss marine life such as sea lions, dolphins and birds. They help pull in a trawl net to catch fish and invertebrates (e.g., crabs, shrimp, sea stars). Students then rotate stations to:

  • touch, hold and learn about the creatures brought up in the trawl net.
  • gather plankton and identify phytoplankton and zooplankton under a microscope.
  • measure the clarity, color and temperature of the ocean water.
  • pull up and examine the ocean’s bottom sediment and what might be living in it.
  • At each station, students learn what affects the marine habitat and inhabitants and why it is important to protect the health of this environment.

The SBCCOG’s South Bay Environmental Services Center team recently accompanied local middle schoolers on a field trip aboard the floating lab. They were joined by colleagues from partner agencies: Water Replenishment District, West Basin Municipal Water District and Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts. •

To learn more about the Think Watershed educational program visit: and