Sunday, 29 May 2016

Vester Marine Station: Week Two

Our week at FGCU’s Vester Marine Field Station flew by. It was an exciting week, starting out with a lecture by Dr. Savarese on the geological history of the Estero Bay as well as some background on the Calusa Indians, inhabitants of Mound Key. In the field we took a brief hiking tour of Mound Key and learned about how the Calusa made use of the land and resources. After the tour, we went out to the Horseshoe Keys and learned how to take a proper sediment core (spoiler alert: it’s a group effort!). After lunch, opened up our core and found out that we’d managed to go thousands of years back in history to when that part of Estero Bay had been a mangrove-covered shoreline. On Tuesday we had a lecture from Cheryl Clark, a representative of the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve (EBAP) on the conservation and management efforts going on in the Bay. For the field part of this day, we went out and collected mesh bags from a failed oyster reef restoration project. This activity turned out to be way more fun than it initially sounded like it would be, and altogether, we collected 179 bags! To conclude this day, we surveyed a bird rookery hosting cormorant, brown pelican, heron, and egret nests. 

If I had to choose a favorite day from Vester's week, I'd choose Wednesday. On this day, Dr. Parsons led us on a six-site tour from the Imperial River out to the Gulf of Mexico in which we took zooplankton and phytoplankton samples at each of the six locations. When we got back to the lab, we were able to investigate our samples under microscopes and identify and quantify species by location. Our last day of lecture and field work was Thursday and it was led by Dr. Douglass. On this day, we learned about seagrasses and their important roles in the Estero Bay. Out in the field, we went to investigate the seagrass density in certain locations that had been indicated as being seagrass-rich. Unfortunately, our field work showed us that the seagrasses were not nearly as dense as our aerial photography had suggested, further stressing how important conservation efforts in that area are. Overall, the week at Vester was extremely diverse and exciting and gave a holistic view on the ecology of the Estero Bay. 
Collecting data from the seagrass mapping
(Photo credits: Corey Corrick)

The inside of the cores taken from Horseshoe Key
(Photo credits: Corey Corrick)

Proudly posing with our oyster bags
(Photo credits: Corey Corrick)

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