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GraceWillettBy Grace Willett, Intern for THE PAPER, a Dana Hills High School publication

After preparing, learning and anticipating since the beginning of the school year, 71 seniors and 45 supervisors left Dana Hills High School Saturday, April 7 at 4:30 a.m. for a 15-hour journey to Bahia de las Animas, in Baja California.

The annual trip, in its 40th year, is specially designed for seniors enrolled in marine ecology, as well as for those who were able to continue through the rigorous curriculum. For many marine ecology students, the Baja trip is a key motivator to take the class, though a majority would attest to the downsides of the field study—no fresh water for showering, no public restrooms and no suburbia for a number of miles.

Biology and marine ecology teacher Randy Hudson, organized, led and taught throughout the trip. His purpose was not only to allow students to apply their strong knowledge, but also for the students to bridge the social gap that often comes between high school cliques. In order to carry this out, Hudson assigned car and field study groups to specific student personalities.

During the week, field study groups rotated to collect data and studied from different ecosystems, including rocky intertidal, sandy intertidal, mangroves, mudflats and reefs.

One of the favorites, the reef ecosystem, included a snorkeling trip to study the ocean zones, as well as counting regional fish. Most participants said the highlight of the study was the opportunity to swim with sea lions and observe their behavior.

Senior Emma Suffrage said, “The reef study was truly amazing. The sea lions (swam) right up to you and blew bubbles in your face as they tried to get you to play. This is an experience that is truly unique to Baja.”

The students returned from the trip on Sunday, April 14. The marine ecology class final will be a report that includes collected data, studies and outlook regarding the Baja trip. The students developed a slogan that they deemed best fit their experience and modern culture, “YOBO,” which stands for “You Only Baja Once.

Senior Bella Rose Dalton interpreted the slogan.

“You Only Baja Once basically states this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Every day we treated the trip as if we would be leaving the next day, so each day was memorable,” Dalton said. “Baja is an experience I would gladly go on again, and I would recommend it to any student.”

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