"Big Al" comes to life on the R/V Sea Explorer on a brief trip outside of the harbor to view the local sea lions and other marine mammals. Students scientists learn about oceanographic equipment such as a drop camera, plankton net, and a benthic sampler while investigating marine habitats. Once onboard students will get a tour of the boat and introductory stations designed to familiarize them with materials and equipment onboard the R/V Sea Explorer. The boat will remain inside the harbor while the students rotate through these stations. Students will have the opportunity to gently touch some of the invertebrates the the Ocean Institute has to offer. By using field guides, the students will have the chance to identify each animal and learn about its survival techniques. Students will identify the different types of zooplankton an d phytoplankton found in that day's sample. Through discussion, the students should come to understand the importance of plankton in the ocean food chain. Students will find animals that were residing in the sample of mud taken earlier in the cruise. Using forceps, they will pick out the invertebrates and match them as best they can to pictures of benthic animals and place their specimen in the corresponding tray.