Saturday, 10 June 2017

Our Week in St.Pete!

We started our week at USFSP on Monday with an introduction to Dr. Judkins and the open ocean! Our first day of class consisted of lecture and an arts and crafts project to build plankton that were capable of floating in the water column. I really enjoyed getting background information on plankton and open ocean biodiversity before we got started with the rest of the week.

On Tuesday, we got some very unfortunate news! There was a problem with the engine on the Weatherbird, and that we wouldn't be able to go out on our research cruise. Although we were all pretty disappointed, we felt a little better when we found out we were going to the Florida Aquarium! Before heading to the aquarium, we were able to get a tour of the Weatherbird and meet the captain and crew. Some of us just wanted to cruise around the harbor for a little bit, just to see the research vessel in action. While at the aquarium, we studied the behaviors of several of the animals and determined how much time those organisms spent doing particular behaviors during the time span that we were watching them. But after we finished our work, we got to have fun and enjoy the animals! I think a lot of us had more fun trying to ID the fish, coral, and algae than most people. Thank you Dr. Voss and Dr. Hanisak!
Concluding our tour of the Weatherbird with a group picture!
Wednesday was a little different, but still a lot of fun! Instead of doing field work, we spent most of the day identifying organisms from past research cruises. It took a bit of teamwork and patience, but we eventually got the hang of it. If nothing else, we got some practice with dichotomous keys! As a class, we also discussed possible questions to look into with the data from previous years. After we split up into groups, every group decided on a research question to analyze and present later in the week.
Trying to ID a species of Batfish!
Thursday was my favorite day of the week! We headed back to the water to do some kayaking! We kayaked to several locations and took water quality samples there. After finishing our kayaking trip, we examined local oyster clumps for organisms. More practice at identifying organisms! We headed back to campus and had some more time to work on our presentations of our research questions.
More organisms to identify!
Friday was presentation day! The question that my partner and I discussed was the changes in biodiversity and species richness of offshore organisms in the years 2014, 2015, and 2016 of previous research cruises. It was really interesting to listen to the analysis and discussion of our other peers. You don't realize how many different questions to be answered there are when so much data is gathered. Overall, I extremely enjoyed this week and I'm sad that we have to leave. On to Pensacola and UWF!

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