Monday, 6 June 2016

A week at Vester Marine Station

A great smart to the week was the beautiful drive through the Everglades from the Keys Marine Lab to Vester Marine Station. Day 1 at Vester consisted of learning about Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve, which is Florida's first aquatic preserve. EBAP is a shallow estuary that has diverse habitats, such as seagrass beds, mangroves, oyster reefs, etc., and diverse marine life throughout. We helped clean up an oyster reef restoration project that didn't take. Bags of oysters were pulled up from the muddy bottom and had many invertebrates living within them. Day 2 we learned the geological aspect of oyster reefs by visiting Horseshoe Key and taking a sediment core sample. This was done by digging a giant, hollow, metal pole into the sediment and once there was no more pole left, it was capped and taken out of the ground carefully. Once taken back to the lab, it was cut open and examined. It was full of sediment, oysters, and vermetiforms from thousands of years ago. The changes in the different types of sediment and organisms seen in the core showed the transgression and regression of sea level over the years. I thought this was amazing, even though it smelt really bad! We also visited Mound Key where there Calusa tribe lived. We found old shells that were evidence of them using them for tools. It was interesting walking around imagining how they lived. Day 3 we went up the Imperial River and then out to the Gulf of Mexico to collect phytoplankton and zooplankton. We took the samples back to the lab to identify what was seen in each sample from the six sites. It was good experience and also fun to identify and put names to the plankton. Day 4 we went to three sites in Estero Bay to monitor the seagrass beds. We monitored them by taking quadrates and quadzillas out into the water and observing how much seagrass and algae were within the boundaries. A net was also dragged in the seagrass beds to collect invertebrates. We found sea stars, nine armed sea stars, conch, urchins, decorator urchins, snails, etc. We then went back to the classroom and worked up the data and learned more about the excel program and made graphs for the big amount of data we collected. This week was overall great according to learning, experience, meeting instructors, and of course fun and exciting while getting a lot of knowledge! Thanks Vester!
Core Sample
Sea Star and Decorator Urchin 
Nine Armed Sea Star
Phytoplankton net

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