Eleven students arrived on Tuesday after a long day of travel. We left Miami airport at 7pm and arrived in Layton at the Fiesta Key RV resort at 9pm. We will stay at this resort while exciting renovations are completed at the J.N. Roth Marine Station. Not much to see on our dark drive but a beautiful sunset over the water.
On Wednesday, we began the day with some orientation to our class and each other, then headed out to the bight for our first snorkel in the Thallasia seagrass beds. At first the students were seeing only seagrass and sponges, but a sweep net through the grasses suddenly displayed the wide variety of marine creatures that make a home here. We were excited to see a decorator crab (Microphrys bicornuta), the marine snail Astraea americana, and several species of green algae. Students also learned some of the challenges of underwater research as they used quadrats to measure seagrass height and density.
The rest of the day was spent getting groceries and having our first lecture. Our reading for the day highlighted the unique aspects of the marine ecosystem to introduce us to the amazing environment we’ll explore during the next 3 weeks. – Jody Saylor, class instructor