Sunday, 22 May 2016

Week 2: UNF Overview (Larry J. Eichel)

Good Evening Everyone,
A great beach shot at Fort Matanzas National Park.
This past week was a challenging, yet eventful learning experience in which we were able to exercise our ability to work as a team to complete a designated task. The first day was spent traveling approximately 30 miles South from the river-head of the St. John's River and collecting temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, saturation, turbidity, and production on the return trip to compare the influence of saltwater flowing downstream into the freshwater river. During this trip, I learned how to use a YSI multimeter, a Secchi depth turbidity tube, a colorimeter, a fluorimeter, and a hand vacuum pump. Next, we embarked on our true test of team building which was to sample for 24 hours in an estuarine environment separated by a weir (i.e., creating a river and lake system). We qualitatively monitored the same variables mentioned above to determine if there were any observable trends in the organismal distribution between the two habitats during the various tides. Next, we got together to test the pH, turbidity, and color (i.e., after filtration) of the water samples collected over the 24 hour period and then worked a team to depict the trends observed via tables and graphs. Next, we were driven to a number of different beaches with varying landscape ecology and informed on their ecological importance as well as the process of formation and changing dynamics. We observed a natural, unmaintained beach at GTMNERR which had high dunes (i.e., between 40 - 60 feet) and a ton of coastal vegetation, a populated beach with many houses which had smaller dunes due to development and severe erosion causing an escarpment, an unnatural, maintained inlet inundated with jetties, a natural inlet that did close due to natural phenomena (e.g., North Easterlies, hurricanes, etc.), and a natural inlet which was partially filled and had many sand bars and shoals. The last day we spent the day reviewing everything we learned over the course of the week, received awesome parting gifts, and took our final exam/lab practical.

A Red Mangrove interspersed in Black Mangroves at Fort Matanzas National Park.

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