A group of 29 Hoover High School students recently returned from Bahia de los Angeles in Baja California after working with scientists and professors.

“For example, we would take a boat to some small island, and when we got there, we would get on the water and study everything there,” said second-year student Yairo Chique.


Courtesy of Ocean Discovery Institute

A group of students and mentors sailing on a small boat in Bahia de los Angeles. Date unknown.

Hoover High School students described some parts of the trip.

“You can really see what they do and how they work,” Chick said. “You can do really hands-on work, too. The simple fact that you’re in the water, you see the whole giant animal and the experts are underneath it, you photograph it, and you can’t do anything.” The simple fact of analyzing it as if it weren’t is really crazy.

Since 2004, the Ocean Discovery Institute has provided City Heights students with free, hands-on research through similar trips.


Ocean Discovery Institute

In this undated photo, a group of students and instructors stand on a vast expanse of sand with mountains in the distance.

Carla Camacho was a student in that first class and now works for the organization. She said it opened the door to opportunities she and her peers wouldn’t have had otherwise.

“The students who went to Baja with me in 2004 are now doing PhDs at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and starting their own businesses as environmental biologists,” Camacho said. “It’s exciting to think that it would take him 15 to 20 years to see these truly transformative experiences, but they’re happening.”

Research Introduction 2.jpg

Ocean Discovery Institute

Professor Perla Myers talks to Yairo Chique and another young student in this undated photo in a room full of seashells.

During the trip, students took daily excursions to learn about science topics such as tracking local bird populations, studying sea turtles and fish, and even swimming with whale sharks.

Professor Perla Myers of USD has mentored several high school students.

“We were on a boat and surrounded by hundreds of dolphins. They were flying all around us. And the students’ eyes were just full of wonder. They loved it,” she said.


Courtesy of Ocean Discovery Institute

Students watch dolphins swim by from a small boat in Bahia de los Angeles. The shooting date is unknown.

The Ocean Discovery Institute works with more than 6,000 young people annually through leadership programs in schools and camps, Camacho said.

She told KPBS that 77% of students associated with her organization have science and related degrees.

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