Monday, 22 May 2017

FIO Adventures: UNF

The first week of field work is done and I could not be more excited for the next four weeks. We spent this week at UNF studying primarily coastal ecosystems across Northeast Florida.

Trying to use the Van Dorn Sampler
We spent day one out on the St. John’s River measuring water quality and sounds in the water. We measured water quality using the YSI, Van Dorn, and turbidity tube. Carissa King was kind enough to take us out on the water and work hands on with the hydrophone. Carissa primarily works with dolphins studying how anthropogenic sounds can affect their echolocation. On the boat, we used a hydrophone to detect any of these sounds. Out of the three sites traveled, we ended up hearing a ton of snapping shrimp, an oyster toad fish, and some clanking coming from the unloading of cargo ships. It was a great way to start the course out on the water

Dr. Smith explaining coquina formations
Day two was entirely terrestrial, but we were able to observe several types of beach habitats with Dr. Kelly Smith. We started at Marineland where we observed coquina rock formations and the habitats they’ve created. We then observed an ongoing dredging project near Summer Haven. This site was particularly interesting because we were able to see the dredging process. At the next two stops we got to compare between a natural inlet near Matanzas and the artificial St. Augustine inlet. Being able to walk along the beaches helped me better visualize the beach differences and zonations.

Seine netting with Kyle, Day 3
Day three was by far the most exciting. We split up into two groups as we had two activities planned. The first half of the day we spent with Dr. Smith using seine nets to collect prey species. The seine netting was fun, except for getting my shoes stuck in the mud a few times. Once we collected all the species we had to identify and measure each organism we caught. The most exciting species we found was an Emerald Goby. Once we finished this portion of the field work we headed out onto the water. We got to join Dr. Gelsleichter and assist in the process of catching and measuring sharks in the Tolomato river. Unfortunately, my group did not catch any sharks but it was still a great experience to be able to bait and set the long lines. It was also super interesting listening to Dr. G explain all the work they’re currently doing along the Atlantic.

On our last day of actual field work at UNF we joined researchers from GTMNERR and followed them out into the reserve where we looked at different marsh plant species. We had to trek through some mud to get to the sites which was interesting. A few people had difficulties, but huge props to Kyle Kenney who helped everyone across the muddiest portion. Once we got to the first plot, the researchers explained the vegetation and how they collect the data using subplots. From here we split up into our groups and each group collected data for their designated plot. Although I learned a lot it was primarily grunt work and by the time we were done with our data collection I was ready to head back to the van.

Our final day at UNF was spent going over each day of field work and reviewing everything we learned. We took an assessment later in the day and Dr. Ross gave a great seminar on corals as an introduction to the upcoming week at the Keys Marine Lab. This week exceeded all my expectations, and I want to give a huge thank you to everyone who helped make this week a success. 

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