Sunday, 12 June 2016

UWF week by Antonio Arruza

Made it through UWF and here I am back where I started. Our first day was filled with a beautiful hike through a long leaf pine forest where we saw some beautiful pitcher plants. Interestingly, the forest is burned every two years in order to keep it in its natural state. Due to roads and houses, the natural state of this ecosystem must be monitored with these fires. Before development fires from lightning strikes kept it in check.

Yellow pitcher plant with a house guest.
You must be wondering what this has to do with marine life, well if you define a watershed then in most cases you have to look very far inland, like at this forest we were at. This is because of groundwater and all of the rivers that lead to the intricate bayou/bay system Pensacola has to offer. 

The next day we helped a grad student with her groundwater research by trying to detect the isotope radon222 which has a half life of around 15 seconds. Therefore, if that was detected, via a complicated/expensive machine, you could tell there was a nearby source of groundwater. 
This was how we detected the radon222.
Later that day we visited the EPA Gulf Ecology Division Lab near Pensacola beach. What a privilege it was to have that tour where we learned about the research being conducted and the equipment they use in the field.

On Wednesday, we had the privilege of meeting Barbara who works with the bream fishermen association. There volunteer organization monitors the water quality of the local watershed. We got to help her with that and were able to monitor seagrasses along three different transects. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were sun filled days. Thursday consisted of beach profiling and Friday was filled with exploring the unique dune lakes of Destin. 
dune lake meeting the sea, (freshwater to saltwater).

-By Antonio Aidan Arruza

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