Monday May 7, 2018
After having a great, relaxing Sunday where we got to share some music with Layton Baptist Church then eat some seafood at a restaurant in Islamorada, it was time to get back to our marine bio work. Today was full of great surprises. As we were heading to our first field location, several dolphins were spotted. We were headed to a specific hard-bottom site when we came across an even larger and better hard-bottom site. We decided to roll with our luck and do our research at this newly found site. Loggerhead and vase sponges of a variety of sizes covered the hard-bottom substrate of this site. There were quite a few sea whips and sea fans also. Our research was focused on the size of the Loggerhead sponges and different species of organisms that could be found living on these sponges.
In the afternoon, we headed off to another site, the Triton flat. Along the way, several Tarpon were sighted. Tarpon are a species of fish that can grow to be 4 to 8 feet long! Oliver had brought along his fly rod and tried multiple times to get one of the Tarpon on the line. Sadly, the Tarpon weren’t too interested in the bait. We continued on to Triton flat. As we explored the flat, a few large trenches were found. Several large spiny lobsters were found in holes along this trench. Another exciting find was a horse conch! At this site, we used nets to collect samples of the seagrass, the sediment under the seagrass, and the sediment under macroalgae. These samples were taken back to the lab to see how the composition of creatures differed between the 3 samples. In the evening, we got to spend some time identifying some of the species we had collected. We then had time to start brainstorming ideas for our group research projects that we will work on in the following week.
Gabrielle Eisenbeis, ’18 Environmental Science/Ecology