Monday, 5 June 2017

Week 3: FGCU and Estero Bay

     At FGCU, we spent every day going out into Estero Bay from the Vester Marine Station.

     Day one: Dr. James Douglass had us travel to four different sites in Estero Bay to collect species data. A few  days prior, Dr. Douglass set out nets filled with oysters in order for species to congregate around an artificial habitat. We went out in two different boats to the four sites. My boat collected species and samples from the lift nets and the other boat measured epibenthic biodiversity, which means they grazed the bottom of the bay looking for species, as well as the amount of turbidity in the water. We had to wear sneakers because we had to walk on oysters at most of the sites. It can cause problems to be cut from an oyster because it can lead to a staph infection and even tetanus shots. Overall, it was a long, yet fulfilling day out in Estero Bay.
Sifting through samples that were caught with the lift nets with the help of Dr. Douglass.

     Day two: This was one of my favorite days of the entire trip. We were split into two groups to measure the cores at two different oyster reefs in Horseshoe Key. Coring involves using a long metal pipe to push into the sediment. If done correctly, the core will be filled with sediment ranging from a hundred to thousands of years old. Using the material in the core, Dr. Michael Savarese was able to determine that the very bottom of the core contained sediment that was around 4,000 years old. It was such a wonderful and fascinating process, with an even better result. With these results, Dr. Savarese and other scientists can determine what the habitat in the area was like for the organisms and humans of the past, such as the Calusa Indians. Another fascinating part of the day was to be able to see where the Calusa Indians set up their kingdom, which was on these two mounds in the middle of Estero Bay. This day was easily one of the highlights of the trip.
Coring on top of an oyster reef. 

     Day three: We went out with Dr. Douglass, yet again, to six sites. At each site we took three samples of seagrass using a Vernstein Sampler and two samples of mud cores. This was done to gain a better understanding of the animal organisms and plant life living in a small area at a given site. It was a lot of hard work, but worth it in the end when we brought back the samples to the lab. Once we were back at the lab, we picked through the seagrass samples. We separated what we found into plants, animals, and amphipods. One of the coolest organisms that was found was a lancelet. It is part of an evolutionary connection between invertebrates and vertebrates.
Coring in the mud and looking for another patch of seagrass to use the Vernstein sampler with. 

     Day four: Thursday was unlike any other day we have yet to experience. Dr. Michael Parsons taught us about currents before we actually went out into Estero Bay to learn about them in the field. We used grapefruits to determine the currents in Estero Bay and how the saltwater and freshwater mixing effected the currents and temperature. Grapefruits are perfect because they hover right below the surface, but do not sink. We dropped the grapefruit into the water and chased it for about 5 to 10 minutes in a canoe. With the help of a handheld GPS, we wrote down the starting latitude and longitude and after we brought the grapefruit back into the canoe we wrote down the ending latitude and longitude. Using certain calculations, we were able to compute the distance the grapefruit travelled as well as the speed. Once we were back at the lab, we put all of the latitude and longitude points on a giant map of Estero Bay. Afterwards, we compared our map with one that was taken 18 months prior.
Mapping the latitude and longitude coordinates with the aid of Dr. Parsons.
     Overall this week was an amazing experience and I can't wait to see what else is in store for the following two weeks.

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog, Michael! Glad to see the lancelet mentioned. :)