Week three at FGCU is completed. This week seemed to go by so much quicker than the first two, but you know what they say, time flies when you’re having fun!
Day one started at Vester Marine Station with a brief lecture from Dr. Douglass. We then went out on Estero Bay to perform oyster-oriented field work. We visited several sites such as FTB, SPC, SMK, and BHP. While at these sites, we examined the epibenthic biodiversity using snorkelers and lift nets. We also examined water clarity and depth. After visiting all four sites, we then returned to the lab to identify and count the organisms discovered by the snorkelers and the lift net group using several field guides and identification books. We discovered a great epibenthic biodiversity among the oyster reefs, showing their importance as structure and habitat for many organisms.
|Checking out the epibenthic organisms on oysters in Fish Trap Bay|
On Tuesday, we were greeted by a new professor, Dr. Savarese. Dr. Savarese gave us a brief lecture on estuarine geologic history including background on the Calusa Indians of Mound Key. After the lecture, we set out to take cores along the oyster reefs of Horseshoe Keys. The task of taking a core was quite muddy and exhausting. Coring also took a lot of teamwork and rhythm. To core, we used a five meter aluminum pipe and pipe handles. Three people were needed to move the core in an up-down motion to lithify the sediment allowing the pipe to slide through the sediment. However, it was much harder than it sounds because each person working the core needed to be in synch. Also, you had to be sure not to let the pipe slide too quickly into the hole otherwise the core could be ruined due to too much compaction. Once the core was finished, you had to create a vacuum in the pipe by pouring water inside the pipe until it was filled and then a cap had to be placed and taped onto the top of the pipe. After that was completed, the core had to be removed from the ground. This was tricky because you had to be sure not to lose the core out of the bottom of the pipe. However, our group did pretty well with the core and didn’t lose it! When we returned to Vester (after our trip to Mound Key), we opened up the cores and determined where transgression and regression had taken place as well as where the formation of the ocean occurred. All in all, Tuesday was probably my favorite day!
On Wednesday, we were with Dr. Douglass again. After another brief lecture, we headed out to Estero Bay to study the soft-bottom benthos (seagrass, algae, mud) composition of six sites. We accomplished this using Virnstein samplers and quadrats. The Virnstein sampler was used to collect seagrass samples as well as any organisms living among the seagrasses. The quadrats were used to estimate percent cover of benthos species, seagrasses, and macroalgae. In addition to soft-bottom benthos composition, we examined water quality parameters of each site, such as depth, salinity, and secchi distance. After all samples and measurements were taken, we headed back to the lab to identify organisms again. We also weighed the macroalgae and seagrass samples that were collected. The best part of this day though was that we got to see probably thousands of brittle stars! It was amazing.
|Estimating percent cover with a quadrat|
On Thursday, we met Dr. Parsons and received a lecture from him about estuarine circulation. After the lecture, we paired up and headed out into the bay in canoes and kayaks. We all were armed with at least one grapefruit and a handheld GPS unit. We deployed the grapefruit from our canoes at ten locations for ten minutes. We also recorded the beginning and ending latitudes and longitudes for every location visited. After the ten deployments were completed, my canoe partner and I had the pleasure of being towed back to Vester by Dr. Parsons. This was great because we were exhausted from all that rowing! Once at Vester, we returned to the classroom to do calculations to determine the overall distances and speeds travelled by the grapefruit. We also answered various questions about currents, winds, and tides.
|Finishing out the week being towed by Dr. Parsons|
Overall, I had a great week at FGCU and I learned so many new things. I can’t wait to see what this next week has in store for me and I am so excited to be home in St. Pete! Go Bulls!