Friday, 10 June 2016

An Eye Opening Experience

This week has opened my eyes to the open ocean. Although stuff had to be moved around because of Colin, everything still worked out well. The first day was filled with some background lecturing about the open ocean and the diversity it holds. This day was a lot of lecturing but all necessary. The second day we discussed what we will be doing on cruise and how to best prepare for it. Then after this discussion we had guest speaker Dr. Radabaugh come to talk to us about her Ph.D thesis work. In very brief summary, she discussed how she studied the carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes in different levels of the food web to develop where the basal resources fit into the food web. With this background information the different trophic levels of species in that habitat can be discovered. This can then be applied to discover migration patterns of different species. This was all very interesting how something as small as the amount of different carbon and nitrogen isotopes in the different layers of an eyeball or vertebrae can be used to track the migration patterns of a species. After Dr. Radabaugh’s talk, we ventured to Tampa to observe the different species a water droplet would discover along its path from wetlands to the open ocean. The Florida Aquarium had amazing exhibits of various different species. While there, we were tasked with filling out ethograms of a wetland bird and coral reef species. This lead to many questions from other bystanders in the aquarium asking what I was doing. Wednesday of this week marked D day for this week. This was the day we left on our 13 hour cruise to do water quality, plankton, otter trawl, and capetown dredging samples both in the open ocean and nearshore. This day was filled with tons of excitement and challenges. The major challenge during this trip was trying to identify all the species that were pulled up but this was also very exciting. This cruise gave us all great experience in the field and expanded our knowledge of species identification, along with also allowing us to see a lot of amazing different species. The day after the cruise we all came back to the classroom to view the plankton under microscopes. This task was mostly just looking at the plankton that is found in the different places and identifying the ones that could be identified. Then Dr. Perrault came in to talk about his research on Leatherback Sea Turtles. He talked to us about the mercury and selenium in turtle populations. It was quite interesting learning how selenium can basically cancel out the mercury in the turtles but then too much selenium can be bad as well. Also adult turtles pass on mercury levels to their offspring and can in some instances be deadly. This talk was very interesting as well and Dr. Perrault showed us some very interesting things. The last bit of Thursday and all of Friday was data analysis. Each group picked a question and used the data from our trip along with previous trips to answer the question. Then with this new data a minimal presentation was presented and the week was completed. On to UWF next week!

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