Wednesday May 8, 2019
Today was our second day of collecting data for our group research projects! We had a lecture and discussion about marine trophic cascades in the morning, then we all packed lunches, lathered up with sunscreen, and headed out on the boats to our separate locations. One group took kayaks out just past the canal by the research station to start conducting their research on the mangroves, two groups went on the pontoon to Triton Flat in the Florida Bay, and the remaining two groups went to the hard-bottom site on the Atlantic side. It was a sunny and hot day with little wind, and it turned out to be a perfect day to be in the refreshing water.
My group was in the boat going to the hard-bottom site to look at two species of sponges and the prevalence of different organisms in them and around them. Our data collection went much more smoothly than yesterday; last night we reflected on our first collection day and worked on clarifying our methods and strategies in the field. Today we made some small changes and all felt that we were much more efficient by the end of the day.
While on the water, our boat also enjoyed seeing some large fish (including tarpons that Ryan saw close to the boat), a red cushion star that was about a foot in diameter, and a horse conch (which was huge and is the largest gastropod in American waters).
After returning to the station, we had a couple hours in the afternoon to work on our projects, work on memorizing taxonomy, and catch up on our field notebooks. After supper we had a lecture about the phylum Cnidaria, which includes animals such as jellyfish and anemones. As some of us have learned through mildly painful experiences in the field, these animals have stinging structures in their cells that they can use for defense and for capturing prey.
It was a tiring but also productive and rewarding day. We’re all getting excited for our trip to the coral reef tomorrow!
– Anneliese Wiebe, 2020 Nursing