After such an amazing experience last week in the Keys, I didn’t think anything could make this trip better. However, I was actually taken aback by this week at FGCU and the Vester Marine Field Station.
|Analyzing epibenthic collections|
Our week started off by participating in an epibenthic oyster survey at four different locations in Estero Bay. We worked with Dr. James Douglass collecting samples and learning how to measure turbidity using a Secchi disk. Once our work on the boat was completed we headed back to the lab to record the species assemblage found on and near the oyster reefs. It took us about two hours to find and identify the species from each location. We were then assigned a homework which required us to analyze and interpret the data collected. To do this we used several biodiversity assessment equations, which we had learned earlier in the day. It was quite interesting going through the species assemblage and being able to interpret the data.
|Measuring the pipe right before taking the sample.|
Tuesday was personally a little more exciting. We joined Dr. Savarese to collect four meter core samples from an existing oyster reef near Horseshoe Key. This was done to see the history of this specific location and identify any patterns of transgression and regression. After the core samples were collected, we headed over to Mound Key to observe an archaeological site currently being researched. This was my favorite part of the day because we were able to walk along the island where the Calusa once inhabited. A few of us were even able to trek up to Mound 1, the highest elevation in the Estero Bay area. Once we finished the Mound Key tour, we headed back to Vester to analyze the core samples taken earlier in the day. To do this we had to split up each core pipe into one meter sections. From here we labeled each core and began to open them using a power saw. Unfortunately, only one of the core samples was actually usable. However, we were able to see clear facies of distinction throughout the entire core. With the help of Dr. Savarese we saw that the oyster reef area had once been a pine upland, about 4000 years ago and had gone through several phases of oyster reef development. The core analysis, along with the archaeological site made this one of the most interesting days yet.
|In the field, using a Virnstein.|
On Wednesday, we joined Dr. Douglass to conduct another epibenthic survey, but this time we studied seagrass beds. Although it was the same type of survey as Monday’s, we used different techniques to collect the samples. These sample collections were done using a Virnstein sample and soft sediment core tubes. We did these collections at six different sites along Estero Bay. Once our field work was completed, we went back to the lab to analyze and record the data just like we did on Monday. It took us about three hours to go through eighteen Virnstein samples. This was extremely tedious work and made me really appreciate the amount of time it takes scientists to review data recordings.
|Sam and I during a grapefruit deployment|
Thursday was another exciting day. We got to work under Dr. Parsons and review how currents, tides, and wind affect movement in an estuary. To observe this in person we used the lagrangian method of measuring water movement. To achieve this, we each got a grapefruit and deployed it at ten different sites along the bay, for ten minutes each. We then had to collect the latitude and longitude of both the start and end locations of our grapefruit. The class split up into groups of two and completed this experiment while on canoes and kayaks. Sam and I decided to go up the river and see how this waterway is affected by tidal influences of the bay. Once we deployed our grapefruit a couple times we then moved towards the bay to collect more data. It took us almost three hours to complete all ten deployments. After returning to the field station, we had to calculate the distance and speed of each deployed grapefruit, using several different given equations. From here we plotted the grapefruit movements on a provided map of Estero Bay. Once everyone had recorded their data, Dr. Parsons reviewed our findings and went over what we can conclude from the migrations on the map. This was my favorite day of the week, as we were able to use a completely new method and interpret what our findings in relation to water movement in the bay.
On our last day at Vester, we finished analyzing the soft sediment core samples taken on Wednesday and took an exam. The exam covered everything we had learned throughout the week, from oyster reef environments to analyzing coordinate data. This week surpassed by expectations, and I want to thank Dr. Douglass, Dr. Savarese, Dr. Parsons, and everyone else at Vester Marine Field Station who helped make this week memorable
|The gang on Mound Key|