This past week, those of us in the UWF cohort spent the week with the lovely Dr. Judkins at the University of South Florida St. Pete. When we first arrived we were all incredibly disappointed to learn that there was a possibility that we may spend the entire week in the classroom due to tropical storm Collin; we had all been looking forward to participating in research on a research vessel, which many of us had never experienced. However, once we flew through our first day in the classroom, we knew that this week was going to be a blast! Dr. Judkins gave us some fun, in-class, assignments and then before we knew it the day was done! Just like that! Though our time in the classroom was fun, I feel like I gained the most new knowledge this week, while we were out on the R/V Weatherbird II (which we were extremely excited to find out we would be sailing on)!
Having not done much in the way of science, outside the classroom at least, this was definitely the most informative portion of the week for me. I enjoyed learning how to use some of the equipment, tolerating a little seasickness and rain, and becoming more proficient in identifying critters (though we still have one that is to be identified.....). Some of the equipment that we used was incredibly heavy, and I'm very grateful that the crew aboard was willing to help haul it in! We took a wide variety of data while aboard the R/V Weatherbird II; some of which included species counts and measurements, water temperature, net flow, pH, chl A, and depth. We used five different methods of collecting data, non of which I had heard of and all of which were incredibly interesting to learn about! Though I did not get to use it, I found the CTD or conductivity, temperature, and depth, very interesting! Once lowered into the water column the CTD reads different measurements from the water and sends it immediately to back up to the boats' tech. room. The CTD also will collect water samples that can be analyzed as soon as it returns to the ship; this helps to ensure that the values the machine sent back are accurate.
Overall I found that this week, like all the rest, has gone by a little too quickly. I would like to thank Dr. Judkins for taking us in and directing us in the correct way to go about collecting and analyzing data, as well as making me more comfortable with the fact that it is okay to use the internet and books to catch up on topics that you're not proficient in... that is not what I have been lead to believe throughout any of my schooling. I would also like to thank the crew on the Weatherbird II and USFSP for taking us in and allowing us to use your facilities it was truly an amazing experience. I can hardly believe that this next week will be our last, I know that the memories we have made will last us a lifetime and I look forward to what this next week has to offer!