Today’s blog post is from Corrie Osborne, a first-year biology major with minors in Spanish and sociology.
It’s hard to imagine that each day can continue to be equally as interesting, but Florida has done it again! Today we started off the morning strongly with a lecture from Jody and a fun activity and discussion from Naomi and Joel concerning the epipelagic region of the ocean, which includes the top 100 meters of water. A round of Jeopardy was played, with options such as “Food Webs for 100” and “Strategies in the Epipelagic for 300”. We then used our freshly honed knowledge to create marine food webs with as many connections as possible.
Because of the ominous forecast from the previous night, our plans to spend the day out on the water were thwarted. As soon as we could after lecture, we started out to explore the mud flats of Anne’s Beach. This location offered a great opportunity to look closely at everything, as the average depth was approximately one to two feet deep! Many interesting specimens were found, including fiddler crabs, a sea cucumber, chiton, and anemones. After enough exploring, we headed back to Layton for lunch with a cloudy sky and a little rain, expecting maybe a full blown tempest. However, we were pleasantly surprised when it was once again sunny and 70° (at least) for our trip to The Turtle Hospital– a sea turtle rescue, rehab, and release center just a few Keys away in Marathon, Florida.
The Turtle Hospital was incredibly interesting, hosting a variety of species of sea turtles at the hospital for a variety of reasons. Some common problems included trapped air in shells from boat collisions making it difficult for them to dive down, and Fibropapillomatosis, a disease caused by a virus that causes growths around the flippers and eyes. Surgery and other treatment can be done at the center, and after enough time to recuperate, most of the turtles are reintroduced to the wild. One highlight for me from this visit was meeting a rescued turtle who was named Corrie as well! 🙂
After returning from the hospital, we feasted on our Community Dinner, a large group meal every Friday evening. Each food group brought a dish to the table (literally), ending in a spread showcasing Jody’s famous ice cream cake– an all-around fan favorite.
After dinner, Duane Kauffman, a professor emeritus from Goshen College and current resident expert on all things marine, gave a lecture on Mollusca. After learning about this vast phylum, we repeated our nightly ritual of sorting through buckets of organisms that we had collected earlier in the day. Some highlights included starting to feel much more comfortable using taxonomic keys, recognizing and being able to identify more and more, and observing the intense hermit crab saga that went down under Jose, Martin, and Lars’ watch. This involved one crab reaching into another, bigger crab’s shell and eventually succeeding in killing it, extracting the dead crab, and attempting to inhabit the “new” shell itself. We think that this rather presumptuous hermit was successful in its endeavors, but it was left down in the lab halfway through the process, so I guess we’ll find out tomorrow!
All in all, there is much happening, much to learn, and it is all so much fun. And of course being Cinco de Mayo made it a little extra festive!