Sunday, 4 June 2017

Our Week at FGCU; Grapefruits Galore!

Our week at FGCU was wonderful, and unfortunately it went by way to fast! We spent our week exploring and getting to know Estero Bay. The majority of our time was spent sampling oyster reefs and sea grass beds for sessile and mobile organisms, but we also took core samples from various locations, and learned about the effects of winds, tides, and the ocean on Estero Bay and the surrounding estuaries.

We started our week off by heading to several different oyster reefs around Estero Bay. At each site, one half of the research team picked up lift nets, which were later sifted through to identify and count the different organisms within the quadrant. The other half of the research team searched around the area and identified as many organisms as they could. After visiting several oyster reefs around Estero Bay, we headed back to the Vester Marine Lab and sat down to identify as many species as possible. After we gathered as much information as possible, we performed several tests such as a Shannon's and Pielou's index to determine diversity and evenness between each of the sites.

On Tuesday, we switched gears a little bit. Instead of looking at biodiversity between sites, we took core samples from a few different locations. The process of taking a core sample was pretty fun! The core tube needs to be cut and labelled properly, then inserted into the ground. It takes a bit of effort to get the core a few meters down, but the results were definitely worth it! When we arrived back at Vester, we cut open the cores and observed the contents. What we found was amazing! We were able to view the history of the small patch of land we were standing on during the sample. We were able to observe when that piece of land was underwater and when it was a mangrove forest. Our professor told us that the oldest part of the core sample was about 4000 years old!
Preparing to take the core sample!

Our activities on Wednesday were similar to those on Tuesday, but we primarily focused on sea grass beds rather than oyster reefs. We travelled to several different sites around Estero Bay and took water quality samples, small core samples, and Virnstein samples from each. We found some pretty interesting environments, including one that was teeming with thousands of brittle stars! When we returned to Vester, we analyzed the samples that we took and tried to identify every organism that we could. We again looked at the diversity between each of the sites using Shannon's index. It was really interesting to see how different locations within the bay had different diversities.
Analyzing the samples for flora and fauna!
Thursday was probably the most interesting day of the week for me! The main goal was to try and figure out which direction the water was flowing in the Imperial River area of Estero Bay. How we achieved these results was not what I was expecting. In order for us to gather our data, we tossed grapefruits into the water and took its GPS location. Then, after 10 minutes of letting the grapefruit float freely, we picked it up and took its GPS location again. So with grapefruit in hand, we deployed our canoes and took 10 samples with our grapefruit. After plotting our distances on a map back at the lab, we were able to see how the majority of the water was flowing throughout the area surrounding the Imperial River.
Waiting to retrieve the grapefruit!

Overall, this week was pretty great! There were some long nights filled with excel spreadsheets and various field guides, but it was all worth it in the end. Now we're on to USF St. Pete!!!

1 comment:

  1. Long nights of excel spreadsheets and field guides- sounds like you're ready for grad school! Nice job.

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