Sunday, 5 June 2016

Week 3: University of South Florida St. Petersburg & R/V The Weatherbird II

The sorting table
Week 3 started off in the classroom with an introduction to the open ocean and the organisms that call it home, as well as loading up the Weatherbird II with all the gear. The next day we were off on our trip 20 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Our goal for this trip was to collect various samples at two different sites, one inshore and one offshore. Later in the week we would compare what we found at both sites as well as with past years. 
Collecting samples from the CTD

Pulling in the first otter trawl

Got my first sample!!

One of the most challenging aspects of this week was shell identification. I volunteered for this task because I was really unfamiliar with the taxonomy of shells and wanted to see how easy (HARD) it was.

The most exciting part of the cruise was watching the bottlenose dolphins swimming at the bow on our way out of the bay. We saw another on our way back in at night and this had to be the biggest dolphin I had ever seen. 


This batfish was probably the most interesting thing about the week at USFSP. Interested by evolution, I couldn't help but wonder what evolutionary pressures created that thing. A benthic species that uses its pectoral fins to scute around on. At first I thought this was the first member of the class Sarcopterygii or lobed-finned fishes (which would have been my first!) but this species is actually a member of Actinopterygii (ray-finned)

Boss telling us what to do

Our trip was only one day so the sampling continued into the night. At our second site (inshore) we deployed the bongos. The bongos are a plankton net designed to catch zooplankton at variable depths in the water column. 

Gumby suit races (champion)
Looking at the dredge contents
 If you want to follow the Weatherbird II and where she's going click here!
Here is our cruise on 06/01/2016

Photo Credit: Corey Corrick and Kris Clark

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