Monday, 22 May 2017

The Journey of a Marine Biologist: Week 1 UNF

               The first week of the FIO course, blew my expectations quite literally out of the water. All of the field work was very intensive, and exciting.  On Sunday a researcher at UNF Clarissa King talked about her research involving dolphin vocalizations. We learned that dolphins communicate through a series of buzzes and whistles. And we learned that the sounds from recreational shipping boats affect their communication.

On Monday, we tested for dolphin vocalization in the center of St. John’s River. The St. John’s River is defined as an estuarine habitat, where salt water is mixed and influenced by freshwater. It is also used for a primary nursery ground, because it promotes less biodiversity among predators.  We observed sounds from the ocean using a hydrophone. Biophony sounds include the sounds coming from the snapping shrimp. The primary anthrophy sound recorded was from motors coming from recreational boats. We tested water quality, including dissolved oxygen, using a YSI machine that we had to air calibrate beforehand. We also tested turbidity using the turbidity tube, and collected water samples from the Van Dorn machine. 
On Tuesday, we observed the differences between a natural and an artificial inlet. A natural inlet does not have jettis present, and does not have artificial rock. A natural inlet has many
sand bars, and the sediment is constantly moving. An Artificial inlet does not have sand bars, and artificial rock made out of granite is observed. We also observed temporary pool present in coquina rocks. They are formed by compaction and a chemical process. We also talked about sand dune formation, and how they are affected by the dredging process.
On Wednesday, we participated in shallow water seining, and deep sea shark catching joined by Dr. Gelsleichter. We observed that there was a significant difference in biodiversity between the high-tide and low-tide. During low-tide there was a high species diversity because fish species were congregating near the mouth of the fresh water creek. During the high-tide there was less land present, and the fish were more dispersed. During the deep water catching of sharks, my group caught a juvenile Atlantic Sharpnose.
Thursday was one of the hardest days out in the field. We surveyed mostly black mangroves in 5 distinct plots. Within the large plots
, there were smaller subplots. In the sub-plot we quantified our observations by percent coverage. We had to count each individual mangrove, and the mangroves that grew into trees. With the shoots we had to measure the height of the mangrove. With the mangrove trees we had to measure height and diameter. Pore water was also important when working at this site because it determined the soil conditions. As we traveled closer to a salt water creek the pH would have decreased.

                At the end of the week I definitely feel like I gained a lot of new knowledge that I can use later in my career. After the first week of research I definitely learned how to work with others better, in a work setting. Some days were more stressful than others, but I am hungry for more. Can’t wait to learn more about coral in the Keys. We did it!!!!

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