My week at the Vester facility of FGCU did not go quite like I expected. The first day was spent cleaning up after a failed oyster restoration project. We were tasked with cleaning up the plastic bags that the oysters were originally in. While going through the contents of the bags, amidst the layers of dead oyster shells lived many invertebrates. Retrieving the bags was a great opportunity to see just what creatures inhabit oyster reefs, there were a large number of pistol shrimp and scattered throughout there were some starfish, tunicates and some sponges.
Day two I’m sure was a blast however I had to stay behind nursing an ear infection. I was able to come in at the end of the day and analyze the sediment cores. This was a unique experience to look through time and see how the landscape has changed over the hundreds of years. On the third day we did 6 sets of 2 different plankton tows. One of the nets used was a smaller mesh size of 20 microns, which caught the smaller phytoplankton. The larger mesh size used was 300 microns this net was used to capture zooplankton. The 6 sites ranged from further up the estuary which has a lower salinity content, to the gulf, which had the highest salinity. We then paired off in groups to analyze the sample under microscope and identified the different species in the zooplankton and phytoplankton samples.
The fourth and final day (Monday being Memorial Day) we went out and surveyed areas of seagrass. This I was unfortunately not able to participate fully in this activity because I could not get my infected ear in the water. I took the data for the students in the water. We put several quadrats down and used them to determine the species and abundance of the present seagrasses. Vester was overall a great experience!