Monday, 22 May 2017

Week 1 of Marine Field Studies: UNF

     Week one of Marine Field Studies was awesome! It exceeded all of my expectations. I am very happy that I was able to participate and learn about what happens in our oceans. The week began with soundscapes of the Saint John’s River and ended with trudging through mangroves.

Me listening to soundscapes with Carissa King on the St. John's River. 
     Monday morning we headed to the Saint John’s River and listen to anthropogenic and natural soundscapes. Carissa King gave an amazing lecture on how anthropogenic sounds can affect dolphin behaviors in the Saint John’s River. Many of the sounds downriver were blocked out by the sounds of boat motors and snapping shrimp (Alpheidae). We were lucky enough to record the sound of an oyster toadfish (Opsanus tau) where anthropogenic sounds were more limited. While working our way back downriver I was lucky enough to spot a female bottled nosed dolphin (Tursiops) being escorted by two males. While waiting to listen to the sounds in each quadrant of the river we tested the water quality using a YSI meter. This meter is used to test dissolved oxygen, salinity, and the temperature. The Van Dorn sampler was used to test the water’s turbidity and chlorophyll-a levels.

Everyone enjoyed finding marine life in the coquina rocks.
On Tuesday morning we headed down to the beach to observe tide pools, scrub habitats, and inlets. I thoroughly enjoyed searching for and learning about the marine organisms that find refuge in the tide pools at Marine Land. It was probably one of my favorite days! While at the beach I found sea snails, blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus), and anemones . As we worked our way back up the coast we learned about how wave action, wind, and man-made objects can affect our sandy beaches. The day ended with a gorgeous view from the viewpoint that overlooked the beach and a mangrove forest.

On Wednesday morning I hopped on a boat and headed over to Tolomato to long line for scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini). After baiting the hooks with Boston mackerel we attached the long line to a buoy and began to attach the bait. After catching, measuring, and fin sampling a juvenile scalloped hammerhead we released it. Following that catch we pulled in two catfish. To end the day we seined in a salt marsh. While seining we caught hundreds of juvenile herring (Clupea spp.) and anchovies (Anhoa mitchilli). Some of the other catches included juvenile inshore lizard fish (Synodus foetens) and silversides (Menidia spp.).
I enjoyed being able to help catch the fish using the siene!

Image of the mangrove forest Wednesday Morning.
To complete our week at UNF we trudged through a muddy mangrove forest. As we worked our way closer to the water, the vegetation became thicker and the number of black mangroves (Avicennia germinans) increased significantly. We took measurements of the diameter of the base of the mangrove, the height, and the canopy width. This was done to measure the rate at which the mangroves have been growing over the years.

Overall, the UNF experience was amazing! I enjoyed the variety of research provided by the school. It kept things very interesting! I loved all of the opportunities I was given, and I hope to be given even more during my week at the Keys Marine Lab!    

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