Our first research project today was collecting Sargassum natans and Sargassum fluitans, floating brown algae that harbor many species. Within these sargassum communities there are the Leander tenuicornis (sargassum shrimp), Portunus sayi (sargassum crab), and the Histrio histrio (sargassum fish). Sadly no sargassum fish were found in the group I was in. The next community that we visited was Old Dan Bank, which is located on the Florida Bay side of the Keys. We collected Halimeda opuntia (a green alga) where many brittle star (Ophiuroidea) and other small aquatic organisms seek coverage for protection from predators. Halimeda opuntia provides cover as it is an unsatisfying meal for larger predators. A few of the organisms found were a brightly colored starfish and two small clear octopuses taking refuge in old clam shells. We ended the day with a wonderful communal meal made by everyone which included a greens salad, fruit salad, pasta salad, and rice with peanut stew.
Frank Gonzalez, Marine & Environmental Science class of 2020