Week three was fantastic. USFSP truly has a lot to offer. With Monday off, due to the holiday, I decided to explore the area a little.
|Exploring USF, and came across this mottled duck mother and her chicks.|
The RV Weatherbird II was the center of attention this week with class centered around what we would do and then interpreting our research. Wednsday was packed full with a ~14 hour boat trip. Going out we saw different gulls, terns, and pelicans. We also at multiple points had some dolphins playing in our wake below the bow of the boat and in our wake.
|Stenella frontalis (Atlantic Spotted Dolphins). Dolphins social nature is why they love to play and say hi.|
The first site we arrived at was offshore around twenty-five miles, and the second site was near shore. At each site we used four different methods to do research on the biodiversity of the gulf. The first was with the CTD (stands for conductivity, temperature, and depth) looking at water chemistry. The next three methods were with a plankton tow, an otter trawl, and a dredge. I found the vast amount of life we found via the various sampling methods used very interesting. Also I really found the whole boat trip to be exciting. What was most challenging was the first site when we were identifying organisms while trying to hurry to keep as many alive as possible. It was a little hectic with everyone getting used to this technique of research but we all adapted and are now semi-professionals. The next day we enjoyed a very interesting presentation on sea turtles by Justin Perrault a grad student and avid turtle researcher. Also looking at zooplankton was exciting, it proved challenging identifying them but when I would figure one out it felt very rewarding. However, when it comes to counting them while still alive it proves near impossible.
Looking forward to UWFJ
-Antonio Aidan Arruza