Can’t believe this is the last time I will be posting about this class, I feel like the time went by so quick! This experience has been so great and so unforgettable. Before I get into the overall course, let’s talk this week. This week has been really interesting working with a lot of grad students and helping them with various projects. Being able to be a part of their project made the work we were doing feel so much more important.
The First day here was ok, although learning about the creek and their regulations is very important, it didn’t really peak my interest as much as marine sciences. The carnivorous plants were really cool to see, there were so many different species and so many individuals in that one area.
The second day was interesting learning about the testing for the certain isotope, 220Rn, which emits from submerged groundwater discharge sites. Since its half-life is so short, 55 seconds, if you find that then it mean you are close to a submerged groundwater discharge. This was grad student Paige’s thesis project! After helping her with her thesis we took a trip over to the EPA lab. Here we got to see various different projects they were working on. They also explained to us some of the various equipment they use, which was very interesting. After all that they then talked to us about different job and internship opportunities and how to take advantage of those positions.
This leads us to Wednesday, on this day we did seagrass surveys. At first I thought this day was going to be seagrass overkill from the other sites, but we got to do different tests in the seagrass area. This was cool to learn all the different ways to approach researching a certain ecosystem. This also was really cool because the project data was being used for a long term study and some of it may be used in grad student Rachel’s thesis. Rain did come in and postpone some of the data collecting while we were here, but we were able to all pull together and still get everything one in time. A good thing about the rain is that one of the park employees, Kristin, was able to talk to us about internship opportunities while we were avoiding the lightning.
This now leads us to Thursday. This day was filed with beach profiling, quadrats, and testing current speed. This was a fun day. Along with being able to be in the beach all day we were also able to do various tests that provide data for people to better understand the beach. Here we did profiling of the surface of the sand dunes using an engineer’s level. The quadrats were very standard but instead of how much of the quadrat was just taken up by each organism, it was how much of the quadrat does the organism block the wind. It was a little bit of a different approach to doing quadrats but after a little bit of practice I was able to understand it. Then we used a very accurate method of measuring the water current, we threw a tangerine in the water and times how long it took to travel from one point to another point with the distance measured in between the points.
Friday was a long but fun day. It was a long day mostly because of the drive to and from the location; it was an hour and a half away. Once we got there, then it was a 45 minute walk to and from the location as well. Once we got to the location, it was interesting seeing the rare location of a dune lake. On the other side of the lake you could see sand dunes and you could even hear the ocean crashing on the shores. The specific lake we went to didn’t have much salt water intrusion, so it was mostly freshwater but you could see where it would happen.
This course overall was a fantastic experience! I have learned so much stuff that I can apply into the field and that will make me look better than other candidates for internships, graduate schools, and jobs. I have made many connections in so many different areas of Florida. This experience I would suggest to anyone with any interest in marine science. Thanks to all the instructors and the 12 people that had to deal with me for the past 5.5 weeks, I will never forget this summer!