What a beautiful day! No wind and lots of sun–perfect for spending the day in the water. Students began work on their research projects today, visiting their research sites in the morning and early afternoon. Student groups were at Anne’s Beach studying Fiddler Crab behavior, in the mangrove channels studying sponge re-growth, and at Triton Flat and the Bight. The water was clear which made taking sweeps, laying transects, and recording behavior much easier. The groups in the Bight had the lucky opportunity to visit with a manatee that came up next to the boat. Definitely a highlight of the day! The same manatee visited our boat dock later in the day.
In the late afternoon, we were lucky to tour the Florida Wildlife, Fish, and Game Commission (FWC) research lab. Tom Matthews shared with us the monitoring and conservation projects conducted on spiny lobsters, sea turtles, and coral reefs. Gaya Gnanalingam, an Old Dominion University graduate student, is working at FWC and our station. She talked with us about her projects to understand spiny lobster reproduction. We were able to watch her collect eggs from a gravid female spiny lobster. When the eggs hatch, she will bring the larvae to our station for further analysis and study.
This evening students heard their last taxonomy lecture–Phylum Cnidaria. Coral is comprised of cnidarian polyps which form coral reefs. The lecture was strategic as tomorrow we plan to spend the day visiting reefs. Can’t wait!
– Jody for the team