Sunday, 11 June 2017

FIO Adventures: USFSP

This week at USFSP was a little different from the previous weeks. Our week was supposed to be focused on the open ocean and field work on the Weatherbird II. Unfortunately, due to technical problems we weren’t able to go on the research vessel. Luckily, Dr. Judkins was able to plan different field related activities throughout the week.

Touring the Weatherbird II
On Monday, we had a great lecture covering the open ocean and instruments used to study the open ocean whilst on research cruises. We also had a short introduction to plankton, as a foreshadow to an upcoming lecture with Dr. Burghart. Since we weren’t able to complete the cruise we got to tour the Weatherbird the next day and speak to the captain. Right after the tour, we went over to the Florida Aquarium to run ethograms on several different species. To complete the ethograms, we had to choose three different animals and observe their behavior for an allotted amount of time. This was the first time I had ever done such a survey and I really enjoyed the technique to study animal behavior.

Plankton netting along the sea wall
On Wednesday, we collected plankton samples along the sea wall at Bayboro Harbor. This was followed by a plankton lecture from Dr. Burghart. Right after the lecture, he assisted us with identification of plankton from the earlier plankton netting. I had never realized how many different types of plankton there are, and I definitely grew a new appreciation for species identification. Along with the plankton, we also identified several organisms collected on previous FIO cruises.  
Kayaking around Weedon Island Preserve

Thursday, we went to Weedon Island Preserve to kayak through mangroves and test water quality. We kayaked for a few hours through mangrove tunnels, and ended our time on the preserve by examining oysters. Sarah and Casey collected several oyster structures for us to observe and identify. Once this was done, we went back to the classroom to work on our questions and presentations from previous cruise data.

We ended the week by finishing and presenting our presentations. We also took a test to review what we learned throughout the week. Overall, it was a great week and I want to thank Dr. Judkins for making our week in St. Pete possible. 

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