What an amazing week! USFSP was all about identifying what is in the open ocean of the Gulf of Mexico. We were able to use all of the skills and knowledge we had learned over the past few weeks and put them to work on our 13 hour trip into the open ocean.
Due to Tropical storm Colin, our week was a little shuffled but definitely not ruined! Monday and Tuesday were classroom days learning about the open ocean and who lives in it. We were able to look at some organisms that Dr. Judkins had and try to identify them using a microscope and a ID book.
Wednesday was boat day! Our group was able to take out a research boat called The Weatherbird II (still don't know what happened to the Weatherbrd I). This was my favorite day of the week! For 13 hours we were on a boat taking samples. We used a CTD to gather information about the water quality, neuston and bongo nets to take plankton samples, and otter and dredge nets to take samples of the organisms that live in the open ocean. We had two locations where we sampled from, nearshore and offshore. We identified all sorts of fish, sea stars, crabs, squids and many more! At the end of the 13 hours I did not want to leave the boat. I easily could have stayed for 24 hours!
Thursday was a field trip to the Florida Aquarium. Though I have been here many times, it was nice to see the organisms and identify them without having to look at the signs. I was even able to tell people at the museum about a few of the organisms in the tank. (Walking around with a clipboard made me look pretty official!)
Friday consisted of data entry and analysis. Our group was able to look at the data from the previous two and compare it to the data we took. We were also able to look at the plankton that we caught and identify the kinds that live in the Gulf of Mexico.
I loved our week at USFSP! Learning all the different organisms hands on was an amazing experience that you just don't get in a classroom. I have fallen more in love with Marine Science and am starting to learn what I am passionate about. I was sad to leave my home campus but eager to see what the next location has in store!