Saturday, 18 June 2016

Journey's End

My last week was spent at UNF with Dr. Kelly Smith and Dr. Hackney where we explored the unique St. Johns River, undertook a 24 hour study at the GTMNERR, and explored the areas beaches. The day spent on the St. Johns was all about discussing human impacts, plankton towing, and seeing the differences in water quality as we traveled along. It was sad to see the amount of human impact we have on the river with all the dredging, factories, marinas, hardened shoreline, noise, and pollution from the big city.
Plankton towing in the St. Johns 
Jacksonville city 

Beautiful mourning at GTMNERR
The highlight of the week was the 24 hour study we did at the Guana River and Lake. The night of no sleep was well spent learning, and observing the changes that come with the tide and the night. We discovered how the system is biologically driven, mainly by phytoplankton and also by bacteria. Sampling of water quality was done every hour and seine netting was done every three hours.
The oxygen levels are entirely influenced by these two factors and its crazy to think about how something we can't see impacts the system on such a tremendous level. The influence of night time and the tide affects what fish we see and captured in our seine net. One thing I noticed was when it was high tide there were more places the schools of fish could go to in order to avoid the big predators like ladyfish. Night time brought about more light sensitive fish and some of us used that to our advantage to get bait for fishing.:)
Two days later we were exploring the beaches of the area with Dr. Hackney and that was a blast. It was a treat to be with him because he really knows so much about coastlines and how they work. We discussed the natural vs unnatural inlets, the dune systems with there resilient vegetation, and how sediment is deposited along coastlines. I found it fascinating to learn about the differences between natural and unnatural jetties. Also I loved getting to see the rare coquina rocks and how they serve as a unique rocky intertidal habitat.
Coquina rocks formed thousands of years ago
Overall this class has taught me more than three years of classroom work could and I have so much to show for it. I am so happy and blessed to be able to have partaken in this wonderful FIO course. I will extremely miss the people I met and lived with along the way, and of course the wonderful professors at each spot.

Signing off,
-Antonio Aidan Arruza

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