University of South Florida St. Petersburg
Cruises and Lectures
For our week at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg (USFSP), our goal was to learn about the biodiversity of the open ocean. Since Monday was Memorial Day, we spent the day becoming familiar with the local area. Our first day of classes started with a pre-test, followed by lectures about the history of the FIO course and Dr. Judkin's research on cephalopods.
We then took a cruise on the ship Weatherbird II to collect different samples of organisms of water:
We had five different types of samples to collect. We needed water from deeper deaths, in order to test the physical and chemical properties of the ocean water. We used a CTD, which measures conductivity (salinity),temperature, and dissolved oxygen of water at depth and collect the sample of water for chemical measurements of pH, nitrite levels, and the levels of other chemicals. We also used two types of seine nets to collect samples of plankton from two different depths. The bongo seine collected plankton samples from the middle of the water column, while the neuston seine collected plankton from the water's surface. We used a dredge pull to collect organisms from the ocean floor, while we used an otter trawl to collect organisms from the middle of the water column. Each method was repeated twice, once in the open waters of the gulf during the daytime, and again in the Tampa Bay at night.
The next two days were used for presentations centered on Dr. Perrault's research on leatherback turtles, and analyzing the data from the samples we collected. We also learned about the importance of biodiversity, especially that of the open ocean.
It was interesting that we were able to use the data we collected from this year and the data collected by students from other years to create and test hypotheses based on our data. As we were collecting the organisms, our group was surprised to find that an almost perfectly preserved barrel sponge in the otter trawl! There were also large angelfish in the otter trawl. Our assignment was to count out and identify every organism from the otter trawls and dredge pulls as they came in