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Cisco's Whale Watch Floating Lab Story

by Michael Leppert

SCIENCE ON THE HIGH SEAS

Frank Ursitti has been in the sportfishing business for 25 years, operating CISCO’S (Channel Islands Sportfishing Company) and plying the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel and other coastal areas of Southern California. In 1996 Frank added a new dimension to his life on the sea when he began to bring into reality an idea he had been long formulating: To make it possible to have one of his sportfishing boats, the Coral Sea, do double duty as a floating marine science lab for children. Frank wanted people to be able to appreciate the beautiful Pacific and its flora and fauna as he did – with firsthand knowledge, not merely from video presentations or books – but hands on! Frank told The Link, "There are kids who live 60, 70 miles from this harbor who have never seen the ocean; don’t know what it looks like or about anything that lives in it! I wanted to provide an opportunity for all kids – near or far away – to see and touch and learn about this great environment!" In 1997 the first tour of the Channel Islands Marine Floating Laboratory (CIMFL) went out. Frank estimates that by the end of 2000 between 5,000 and 6,000 students have experienced the Floating Lab’s 3-1/2 hour program in the protected waters of the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, California.

Mr. Ursitti has worked closely with the Ventura County Maritime Museum and the Orange County Oceanographic Institute to make the CIMFL program the finest of its kind. The floating lab has been designed with five activity stations to draw the visitor into interacting with the exhibits, not merely watching from afar. In those five stations aboard the Coral Sea, the visitor can hold live sea stars (aka starfish), sea urchins, bat rays and octopus, along with other denizens of the Pacific. Besides viewing live subjects, one of the stations allows the students to take samples of the ocean floor and perform an analysis of its components, providing the student with a deeper awareness of the organic life supporting the vegetation and animals. The Coral Sea is equipped with state-of-the-art microscopic equipment that allows the students to view and discuss plankton and other minute organisms of the sea. Plankton is the main food source for the Blue Whale -- one of our personal favorites of the ocean! Speaking of which . . .

CISCO’S also offers a series of fun, exciting and educational whale-watching cruises from the berth at the Channel Islands Harbor. This time of year, January through April, is the height of the whale migration season and the Santa Barbara Channel is the throughway for these majestic creatures -- not only the California Gray whales but also the mighty Blue whales, largest creatures on earth. Blues can attain a length of 110 feet! Imagine floating above such a leviathan, seeing his back breach the water a few feet from your boat and him diving again! The whale-watching cruises run twice daily, at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and are approximately 3 hours in length, and unlike the Floating Lab, these boats travel outside the Ventura Harbor, anywhere from 3 to 14 miles offshore, in search of the gentle giants of the California Coast. The CISCO boats are licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard and carry a complete array of the latest safety equipment. The boats are equipped with restrooms and offer food and beverage sales as well, for total comfort on the high seas! The Channel is a beautiful area and its most visible sea animals besides the great whales – dolphins, sea lions, pilot whales, pelicans and other birds -- are enthralling. Frank offers a special group rate for field trips and homeschool (or school) groups of 25 children or more. You can bring your videos or still cameras and photograph to your heart’s content! For whale-watching information, please call 805/985-8511 or visit the website at www.ciscos.com. For the Floating Lab office, please call 805/382-4563. CISCO’S is located at 4151 South Victoria Avenue, Oxnard, CA 93035.

Frank Ursitti is an earnest and enthusiastic supporter of teaching about the ocean and he is working on a number of excellent ideas for the future, so even if you have experienced with his Floating Lab or Whale Watch tours, you may want to check in every so often to inquire about new activities he has added.

Frank will be bringing his Portable Tide Pool exhibit to The Link Conference this year, May 17-20, 2001. Don’t miss it! No matter what your student’s (or your) oceanic interest may be, Frank has a boat for you! If you are fortunate enough to live in Southern or Central California, the Channel Islands Harbor is an easy drive, lying approximately halfway between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara near U.S. 101. If you live outside of this area and ever find yourself planning a trip to this portion of California, do yourself and your family a favor and call Frank to schedule one or both of these exciting ocean-exploration tours.

CISCO’S WHALE WATCH & FLOATING LAB STORY
by Michael Leppert

SCIENCE ON THE HIGH SEAS

Frank Ursitti has been in the sportfishing business for 25 years, operating CISCO’S (Channel Islands Sportfishing Company) and plying the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel and other coastal areas of Southern California. In 1996 Frank added a new dimension to his life on the sea when he began to bring into reality an idea he had been long formulating: To make it possible to have one of his sportfishing boats, the Coral Sea, do double duty as a floating marine science lab for children. Frank wanted people to be able to appreciate the beautiful Pacific and its flora and fauna as he did – with firsthand knowledge, not merely from video presentations or books – but hands on! Frank told The Link, "There are kids who live 60, 70 miles from this harbor who have never seen the ocean; don’t know what it looks like or about anything that lives in it! I wanted to provide an opportunity for all kids – near or far away – to see and touch and learn about this great environment!" In 1997 the first tour of the Channel Islands Marine Floating Laboratory (CIMFL) went out. Frank estimates that by the end of 2000 between 5,000 and 6,000 students have experienced the Floating Lab’s 3-1/2 hour program in the protected waters of the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, California.

Mr. Ursitti has worked closely with the Ventura County Maritime Museum and the Orange County Oceanographic Institute to make the CIMFL program the finest of its kind. The floating lab has been designed with five activity stations to draw the visitor into interacting with the exhibits, not merely watching from afar. In those five stations aboard the Coral Sea, the visitor can hold live sea stars (aka starfish), sea urchins, bat rays and octopus, along with other denizens of the Pacific. Besides viewing live subjects, one of the stations allows the students to take samples of the ocean floor and perform an analysis of its components, providing the student with a deeper awareness of the organic life supporting the vegetation and animals. The Coral Sea is equipped with state-of-the-art microscopic equipment that allows the students to view and discuss plankton and other minute organisms of the sea. Plankton is the main food source for the Blue Whale -- one of our personal favorites of the ocean! Speaking of which . . .

CISCO’S also offers a series of fun, exciting and educational whale-watching cruises from the berth at the Channel Islands Harbor. This time of year, January through April, is the height of the whale migration season and the Santa Barbara Channel is the throughway for these majestic creatures -- not only the California Gray whales but also the mighty Blue whales, largest creatures on earth. Blues can attain a length of 110 feet! Imagine floating above such a leviathan, seeing his back breach the water a few feet from your boat and him diving again! The whale-watching cruises run twice daily, at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and are approximately 3 hours in length, and unlike the Floating Lab, these boats travel outside the Ventura Harbor, anywhere from 3 to 14 miles offshore, in search of the gentle giants of the California Coast. The CISCO boats are licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard and carry a complete array of the latest safety equipment. The boats are equipped with restrooms and offer food and beverage sales as well, for total comfort on the high seas! The Channel is a beautiful area and its most visible sea animals besides the great whales – dolphins, sea lions, pilot whales, pelicans and other birds -- are enthralling. Frank offers a special group rate for field trips and homeschool (or school) groups of 25 children or more. You can bring your videos or still cameras and photograph to your heart’s content! For whale-watching information, please call 805/985-8511 or visit the website at www.ciscos.com. For the Floating Lab office, please call 805/382-4563. CISCO’S is located at 4151 South Victoria Avenue, Oxnard, CA 93035.

Frank Ursitti is an earnest and enthusiastic supporter of teaching about the ocean and he is working on a number of excellent ideas for the future, so even if you have experienced with his Floating Lab or Whale Watch tours, you may want to check in every so often to inquire about new activities he has added.

Frank will be bringing his Portable Tide Pool exhibit to The Link Conference this year, May 17-20, 2001. Don’t miss it! No matter what your student’s (or your) oceanic interest may be, Frank has a boat for you! If you are fortunate enough to live in Southern or Central California, the Channel Islands Harbor is an easy drive, lying approximately halfway between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara near U.S. 101. If you live outside of this area and ever find yourself planning a trip to this portion of California, do yourself and your family a favor and call Frank to schedule one or both of these exciting ocean-exploration tours.

Copyright © 2006 Modern Media