Monday, 6 June 2016

Week 3 at FGCU Vester

photo credit: Reena Torrance 
This past week at Vester Marine Field Station was pretty interesting and focused on multiple different topics.  Since we had off on Monday for memorial day our scheduled had to be adjusted a little. So on  Tuesday (my birthday!) we went out in Estero Bay with a member of the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve to collect artificial oyster reefs that failed.  Although the point was to find and remove as many oyster bags as we could, every bag we found we ripped open to see what was living in those reefs.  We found mostly crabs, a couple toadfish and in one bag we found a juvenile American eel. 

Photo credit Morgan O'G

On day two we went to take a core sample between the mangroves and then took it back to cut open an analyze the different layers.  When we opened up the the two and a half meter coring tube we got to see the different layers and organisms that thrived during different time periods.  It was really interesting to visually see how sea level rise affects the organisms and habitats within the sediments. You could see different organisms appearing and reappearing within the core sample, as sea level continued to rise the intertidal organisms drowned and you could the see the shells of deeper water species appear. 

After playing in the mud the first two days we took the boats down the river out into the Gulf of Mexico towing plankton nets for ten minutes in 6 different areas. We took our tiny friends back to lab to look at under microscopes identify them. 

photo credit: Mackenzie 

Our last day at Vester we went exploring in Estero Bay and sampled 3 different seagrass bed habitats and recorded the quantity of algae and seagrass and noted the percent of seagrass covered in epiphytes (algae growing on the seagrass) found within the quadrant. We took about 6-8 samples from each location and along the way picked up some fascinating creatures with the dip net. We found a couple nine-armed sea stars (Luidia senegalensis), sea urchins ( Lytechinus variegates), florida fighting conch, and a little hermit crab. 
Playing in the mud might have been my favorite part! Its not every birthday you get to play with inverts in mud and help protect the environment! :)

Next stop USFSP! I'll check back in this weekend! 

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