Sunday, 19 June 2016

It's Been a Blast!

The joys of nighttime sampling

I honestly can’t believe that it’s already over and that this is my last blog post – but before I get sentimental, I’ll break down our action-packed final week. Our last week found us back at UNF for some St. John’s River touring, the feared 24-hour sampling study, and a dynamic beaches tour.  As a native of Jacksonville, I found the St. John’s River tour to be a fascinating new look at places I see every day. We took water quality and plankton samples and then talked about the human impacts on the river. On Tuesday, we loaded up and headed out to the GTMNERR which we made our home for the next 24 hours. In three groups of five, we tackled hourly water samples on the Guana River and the Guana Lake, as well as seining each location every three hours. Starting the trip, none of us knew how to feel about spending the night on a marsh, but it was a great experience and the time flew by. My least favorite part was trying to measure wriggly, cranky shrimp in the middle of the night! We were all glad to sleep in beds Wednesday night, but we were up early for a beaches tour down A1A on Thursday morning. This day, we got to compare a jettied inlet with a natural one and learned about the role of sand dunes in protecting beach habitat.


Taking a beach tour
This course was so much more than I ever expected it to be and I can’t be thankful enough for all of the experiences I was able to gain. From snorkeling coral reefs in the Keys to taking the Weatherbird II out for a research cruise to braving the GTMNERR for 24 hours, I feel that I’ve been able to get a solid taste of what this field of work is all about, and that this is a great first step toward prepping for graduate school. Along the same lines, I’ve also been able to meet some amazing faculty from all over Florida, as well as connecting with a group of fourteen other like-minded individuals. I’m amazed at how much we’ve all accomplished and I can honestly say that I will miss each and every person I met on this trip. Ending the trip is bittersweet, but I know that this is only the beginning and I’m so excited to see where I and everyone else will go after this!

The beautiful GTMNERR

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