Sunday, 21 May 2017

Week 1 at UNF


Week one at UNF was a lot of fun and also very educational. I had a lot of fun, but it was much more challenging than I was expecting.
    Day one on the Saint John’s River was really cool, we got to listen to the sounds underwater using a hydrophone, both natural and anthropogenic. Lots of snapping shrimp! We also heard the port’s shipping noises and the loading of a huge cargo ship. Unfortunately we didn't hear any dolphins but it was very interesting to hear what something sounds like underwater versus through the air. We measured dissolved oxygen, salinity, and temperature with the YSI as well as taking water samples from a meter down with the Vandorn. Even though we got a little swamped and I broke my phone, day one was a lot of fun.
    Day two we hiked around four different beaches on the Atlantic coast. We started out at a beach with coquina rock formations, a calcium carbonate hardening of Donax variabilis and quarts grains that form a natural rocky tidal zone. We looked for organisms, fish, crabs, and anything else we could find in the tidal pools formed in the rocks. It was really fun to run around with nets trying to catch anything we could. Then we went down to Summer Haven, where a tidal river use to connect the ocean to the waterway, but had filled in. It was really interesting because the residents of Summer Haven want the river to be reopened so there was active dredging going on. We made it all the way to the bridge and saw quite a few docks that lead nowhere and disrupted nesting areas before a worker came and kicked us out. At Mantaz inlet, stop three, we had lunch, hiked around and saw a little bit of the damage done by Hurricane Matthew, which made our hike much longer because of the destroyed walkways. Our final stop on Tuesday was the GTMNERR reservation where we got to walk up to an overlook and see a great view of the barrier island and the primary dune’s natural coastal scrub. Day two was a long day of hiking but really amazing and fun to see the beached on the East coast.


  Day three was by far my favorite, shark day! I rode with the shark team from UNF so we went out on their sharking boat Genetic Drift. A day full of new challenges starting out with cutting bait on the bow going full speed. When bait was cut and we gave the other boat their equipment we went back into the estuary on the Tolomoto river and baited the gangion rigs and dropped the bottom line. Then it was all a matter of waiting. About 15 minutes later we pulled the bottom line and sure enough we caught three female Fine Tooth Sharks, Carcharhinus isodon, we measured, tagged, took blood and a fin sample, and a tiny baby Scalloped Hammer Head, Sphyrna lewini, we measure and took a fin sample from him but didn't tag or take blood because he was too small. We threw a second line and caught one male Fine Tooth who we measured, tagged, took blood and the fin clip then I released him. It was really incredible to see the sharks up close and help with everything, the shark research grad students were very nice and answered all our questions and it was just all around super cool.
    Day four, Thursday was our last field day and we went out to look at the East coast’s black mangroves. Researches met us and took us out into the mangrove marshes and showed us how they survey them. They had set up plots 5-1 and four subplots inside each plot. We started at plot 5 we estimated plant dominance for both the entire plot and the subplots. Then moving toward the water we started counting mangrove shrubs and trees within the plots. For marked trees we measured tree diameter, height, and canopy cover. We also collected pore water for different plots. The best part was the muddy creek we had to cross, Kyle tried to help everyone get across but there was more than one person that sink into the mud!
    Day five we just had our assessment and a seminar to get us ready for next week in the Keys. But overall I enjoyed my time at UNF and am really looking forward to the rest of this cours! And a big thank you to Dr. Smith for taking us out and showing us a great time in the field.

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