Monday, 30 May 2016

FGCU Vester Week

For week two of this awesome class, we joined my turf at Florida Gulf Coast University researching out of Vester Marine Station. We were able to do field work with three different professors as well as an employee of Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve! This week I learned more about Estero Bay than I had known before for example how the human activity is really hurting the environment for wildlife by making the water quality so bad.

On day one the class went out and took core samples from one site. We then took the core samples back to Vester and cut them open to investigate what was inside. The bottom of the core turned out to be around 4000 years old! Throughout the core showed remnants of oyster shell, old snail shell, and even worm reefs. Mangrove peat was very interesting and I learned that the roots of mangroves are spongy under the sediment to assist with their tolerance to saltwater.

The next day we worked Cheryl from Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve helping clean up the water by removing a failed oyster reef restoration the FGCU had conducted several years ago. We then bird watched and learned about rookeries and how important it is for humans to keep away from nesting birds. The chicks can easily be killed if humans spook the parent birds.

Our longest day on the water but enjoyable was doing plankton tows upriver and then all the way out to the Gulf of Mexico. It was quite interesting seeing live specimen of phyto/zooplankton and how they differed from increasing salinity. We thought it would be a rough day just looking at microscopes but it proved to be a very fun day.

On the final field day we traveled to different spots that were said to be thriving with seagrass beds. We came to find out this was not true for all the sites. We used quadrats and a quadzilla to monitor the different seagrasses and how abundant they were on the estuary floor. We also pulled a net over parts of the seagrass beds and were able to see what organisms were living there (awesome!!!). This day we saw A LOT of manatees which was amazing. A pod of them came right up to one of our boats!

Had an amazing week at FGCU and cannot wait for USF!

-Gage Wilson

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