Saturday, 20 May 2017

Our Week at UNF!

This first week of the FIO course was absolutely amazing! Everything began Sunday morning with an introductory meeting, which was one of my favorite parts. It was really great to meet new people who were interested in the same field as me, and who were just as excited about this class as I was. After being introduced, we had a swim test to establish our strengths and weaknesses while swimming (this would come in handy for our week in the Keys).
Breakfast and signing forms!
The real work started Monday morning. I got to ride to our destination with Carissa King, a graduate student at UNF studying how sound affects the dolphins in the St. Johns River. It was great to ask her questions about her studies and how she chose what subject to study for her graduate research. We spent all day on the water, performing various tests to test for salinity, turbidity, and other water quality aspects at different quadrants of the St. Johns River. I think that being able to use the water quality tools was a great experience. In all of the other science labs I've participated in, I've never really had the chance to use and really process the information from scientific tools. We also listened for natural and anthropogenic sounds on Carissa's hydrophone.
On the boat, learning about soundscapes and water quality tests!

Tuesday was a great day as well! Although it was more information and lecture based, we still learned a lot about the beaches of northern Florida. Most of the beaches we visited were in the St. Augustine area. The first beach we visited had various coquina rock structures, which we inspected for small organisms like crabs, anemones, and barnacles. We also visited several beaches that had both artificial and semi-natural jetties, and we learned about how the jetties can affect the sediment build up at the beaches. Last but not least, we learned about the habitats and organisms that inhabit the sand dunes of northern Florida and how anthropogenic and natural sources are changing them.

Small sea-snail in a tide pool in the coquina rock formations.
Wednesday was the longest day we had all week! We started our day out with Dr. Kelly Smith at a riverside beach where we took several water quality tests and then we used a seine net to observe the possible prey species of juvenile sharks in the area. After a nice lunch, we were then put on a boat with Dr. Jim Gelsleichter, a shark expert at UNF. He taught us about the sharks in the Talomato river and the research he and his team were performing with them. Then came the fun part! We got to bait hooks and help set out the lines to catch some of the local sharks. Unfortunately, my group only caught a single catfish! But the other groups were a bit more lucky.
Observing the fish species we caught in the seine net!
Thursday was our last field day at UNF. We spent it out in the mangroves of the GTMNERR. We helped to measure tagged mangrove trees to see how much they'd grown since the last survey, and to take a census of any new mangroves that had began to grow. We were able to observe how the ecosystem changed from river, to mangroves, to primarily salt marsh. We also took measurements for the water quality in the ecosystem.
I found a nice place to sit while I recorded the information on the mangroves!
On our last day at UNF, we had a short practical exam to access the skills we learned throughout the week. We ended the day by watching Finding Dory and relaxing. In just one week I've already made so many great friends and I've learned so much! I can't wait to see what the next few weeks have in store for us! See ya in a week! :)

No comments:

Post a Comment