Every year my school goes to the Nissequogue River to observe the water and the environment around it. Grades five through eight participate in the field trip. We are not the only school that does this; many other schools record data for the river as well. This way there are many people keeping track of the flora and fauna.

The Nissequogue River is an 8.3-mile-long river flowing from Smithtown into Long Island Sound. Before the day began, we broke into five groups. Each group was given specific tasks, including drawing a map of the site, testing the water temperature, measuring the speed of the tide and the current direction, and getting sediment samples of the shoreline. Groups also had to observe and document fish and wildlife in and near the water, and take pictures of everything we saw.

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My group was responsible for sediment samples. To get a sediment sample we had to use a tube and hammer it down into the bottom of the river. Then we pulled it out of the ground and poured it into a sediment tray to inspect. We got two samples and put them both in a tray. In the sediment we were looking to see if the samples had: clay, mud, sand, gravel, pebbles, bivalve shells (clam, oyster), snail shells, macroinverts (worm, crab), coal and plant materials.

One of the best parts of the trip was catching fish. One group caught so many, which included: striped killifish, sheepshead minnow, silverside, mummichog, stickleback, herring and an eel. Eric Young from Sweetbriar Nature Center came to help us. Our science teacher set this trip up and it was awesome. To me the river looked pretty healthy, but only the stats will tell us if it is. You can find out more: nysparks.com, and search for school trips.