After spending the first week of this course at the University of North Florida I have become even more excited to see what this course has in store for me. Each day I learned a new skill, such as on the first day in the St. Johns River we listened for anthropogenic and biological sounds using a hydrophone, now I know exactly how to identify what a snapping shrimp sounds like underwater. I also learned how to use a turbidity tube to test for water clarity, and a Van Dorn sampler to take a sample of water back to the lab to test its chlorophyll A levels. Although I already knew how to do YSI readings it was nice to have the chance to practice.
On the second day I learned how certain organisms survive in specific environments, such as the Coquina clam and how it burrows under the sand to avoid high-energy wave action and heat. We also went out to Summer Haven and saw the effects that dredging has on the environment and shore birds. We also visited a natural and a maintained inlet and learned how to identify the difference between them. It was really cool to see how the Jetties affected the shoreline and how humans further impacted the shoreline by putting the jetties in their place.
On the third day, my favorite day, we were out on the boat longline fishing for sharks so that we could tag, fin clip, blood sample, and measure them. We caught a small scalloped hammerhead shark and clipped its fin but because it was so small we needed to return it back to the river as soon as possible. That was the first time I’d ever seen a shark in person so it was super exciting. We also seined in the afternoon when the tide was high and because of that we caught a lot of fish, such as anchovies and herring. We counted out the different types of fish based on their species and then returned them back to the river when we were done.
On the fourth day we went to a salt marsh and learned how to calculate percent coverage within a subplot. We also measured the mangroves width, height, diameter of the trunk, and the canopy coverage. It was really cool to learn about black mangroves because last year I studied a lot about red mangroves while in the Bahamas so I had the chance to compare the two to see what makes them similar and different. After this week alone I’ve already learned so many new useful skills and I can’t wait to learn more during the rest of this course!