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‘Something fishy’ in Downtown New Bedford

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SouthCoast Today | The Standard-Times

Carol Kozma (August 13, 2015)

NEW BEDFORD — At camp Thursday, a loud, united, exclamation of “Ewww!” erupted as the smell of fish slowly filled the room at the National Park Visitor Center, and fourth graders gathered together sat down at tables, waiting for the dead yellow fin flounder to be placed in front of them.

But that doesn’t mean the campers weren’t having a blast. Asked how things were going at the aptly named “Something Fishy” summer camp downtown, 9-year old Hector Vega exclaimed, “Awesome!”

As for his favorite part of camp so far, Hector said, “Basically, everything.”

Children at the camp are learning the history of the city’s port, from the whaling days to the present day, said Laura Orleans, of the Working Waterfront Festival.

Orleans partnered with the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park for the free one-week camp for 4th graders, chosen by lottery, with two sessions with a little more than 20 children in each. The camp was made possible through grants from the United Way Summer Fund, Education Foundation and New Bedford Whaling History Alliance among others, she said.

The children visited the Whaling Museum, went aboard a docked scallop boat and more.

Calling the camp an “amazing opportunity,” Orleans added, “few people get a chance to go on a fishing boat.”

On Thursday, the children were learning how scientists tag fish to follow populations and learn where they travel, their behaviors and how they might change.

Crista Bank, a fisheries research technician at the School for Marine and Science Technology (SMAST), first showed students a PowerPoint of the work she does, with videos showing scientists aboard boats tagging the fish and then releasing them.

Then, Bank showed children how to tag a fish, using a stuffed animal fish and a gun, the same kind used to tag clothes, she told the children.

After that, it was their turn. They sat in pairs at tables covered with a plastic sheet and wearing gloves, the yellow fin flounders lying in front of them. Bank made her way from one child to the next, helping them use the gun to tag the fish.

Kendall Kavanaugh, 9, held her t-shirt over her nose while she inspected the fish from a distance.

At the camp, she’s made a T-shirt, dissected a squid, and made ditty boxes (fishermen chests), she said.

Asked what her favorite part of camp was, she said, “It’s very nice to make new friends.”

Follow Carol Kozma on Twitter @CarolKozmaSCT

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