Sunday, 12 June 2016

USFSP 1 Colin 0

Invertebrates that were collected
Happy Times!

Open Ocean 
USF St. Petersburg

This week was spent at USF St. Petersburg with Dr. Judkins! Tropical Storm Colin decided to visit us during the beginning of this week but it didn't stop us...just rearranged us. Monday consisted of lectures about Cephalopods and the biodiversity found within the open ocean/deep sea. We also got to look at Cephalopods under the microscope to identify them.
Strawberry Squid
On Tuesday, we learned about the open ocean and were given details for the adventures on the Weatherbird II that were to come. Later that day we had a guest speaker, Dr. Radabaugh, come in to discuss her research of stable isotopes. Her research was very interesting. She studied fish diet by chemically analyzing the body tissue of the fish, which provided general long-term information about it's diet. The stable isotopes were also useful in studying the migration of the fish by analyzing parts of the animal that deposit in layers. The last part of the day we visited The Florida Aquarium and studied animal behavior among the birds and coral reef creatures.
Pulling up the Otter Trawl

Weatherbird Wednesday! This was the day we took off on the research vessel out to the open ocean for a 13 hour day/night. This was the most exciting adventure and it was such an amazing experience. We used 5 different open ocean sampling techniques at two stations, offshore and nearshore. The CTD was a device that took a bunch of water quality parameters, such as salinity, temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, etc. It also collects water samples at various depths. The bongo nets were for collecting plankton from about 11 m deep and the neuston net was for collecting plankton at the surface. An otter trawl was used to collect bigger fish, squid, and invertebrates that were deeper in the water column. The dredge was used to collect coral, sponges, and invertebrates from the bottom of the sea floor. Everything that was pulled up from the ocean was identified and measured. This was the most challenging task, but the most rewarding with knowledge! It was difficult at times with all the "organized chaos" going on, but it was where the team building and trust truly came to play. We trusted each other to do our parts to get everything done efficiently.
Identifying & measuring 

On Thursday, we started with data entry from the Weatherbird. Following that, we had another guest speaker, Dr. Perrault, who spoke to us about his research with Leatherback sea turtles. He studied the levels of Mercury and Selenium in the Leatherbacks. His research was super interesting to me because I am looking to do research with sea turtles as well. After the lecture, we examined our plankton samples and identified them. Our last day, we continued with the lovely data entry and worked in teams to create graphs to represent our data. This was my favorite week of this course. Thanks again Dr. Judkins!

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