Sunday, 29 May 2016

Week 2 at Vester

This past week at FGCU’s Vester Marine Field Station allowed us to explore the Estero Bay from multiple viewpoints in order to gain an understanding of how the bay’s systems interact with each other. Monday’s focus was on the geology of the bay and how the processes of land formation and sea level rise affect the development of the coastline. As a class we were able to visit the site where the native Calusa people resided and see what the land was like during their time. We also had the opportunity to take a core from an oyster reef and analyze it to see how sea level rise changed the landscape over time. On Tuesday we emphasized the importance of conservation and restoration of areas like the Estero Bay and the many services they provide to the environment. We were able to participate in the cleanup of a failed restoration project and also went “birding” and learned how to properly interact with birds in a rookery.

Wednesday was centered on microscopic plankton. We collected both phytoplankton and zooplankton samples from freshwater, brackish, and saltwater sites and compared the different species found in each habitat. Thursday’s focus was on seagrasses, their environmental importance, and the factors that limit their growth. We learned how to monitor seagrass growth using quadrat sampling. This method consisted of us snorkeling on top of PVC grids randomly placed at the different sites. The amount of seagrass and algae present, individual seagrass species, and degree of epiphytic algae were measured. Then the class compiled our data and compared the different sites where seagrass was expected to be present. The week finished off with our exam on Friday. Overall I enjoyed this week because I was able to gain a holistic understanding of the many facets that go into supporting the Estero Bay ecosystem.     

successfully took our own core
(courtesy of Corey Corrick)

ready to cut open some oyster bags
(courtesy of Corey Corrick)

gathering our plankton samples
(courtesy of Corey Corrick)

measuring seagrass with quadrats
(courtesy of Corey Corrick)


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