This week our cohort, the Spartina Spartans,were stationed at University of South Florida in St. Petersburg. Having Monday the 30th off for memorial day definitely made this week packed, fitting everything into just four days. As soon as I found out we were doing a 14 hour study on the R/V Weatherbird II I was ecstatic! For previous Florida Gulf Coast classes I have conducted studies aboard the R/V Bellows and had a complete blast, so knowing that I was going to be on another FIO research vessel was probably the best news as a marine science nerd that I had gotten in a while. After traveling out to our sampling sites in the Gulf of Mexico, the real fun and hard work began. We were broken up into four groups and took our turns working with different types of scientific equipment to collect data, including a CTD, otter trawl, dredge, and two types of plankton nets (neuston and bongo). I thought it was interesting to be able to see so many different aspects of the ocean and its creatures with just a few different sampling methods. Although it was intriguing to see so many different forms of life that was collected from the otter trawls and dredge samples, the most challenging part of this study was identifying the scientific name for each and every creature brought up out of the seemingly millions of options. Sometimes it took up to thirty minutes just to distinguish what one name was, and as the hours went on I think we were all shed a tear with each turning page of several different identification books. Overall this week was full of interesting and different ways of learning about the open ocean and all that it holds,it was a blast!
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