Sunday, 12 June 2016

Week 4: University of West Florida

The week in Pensacola was one of my favorite weeks so far (even compared to the keys!). As a student of marine biology it was refreshing to start the week at a little higher elevation at an upland forest area. We took a nice hike through the state park and learned all about the long leaf pine ecosystem and how the natural state is maintained by controlled fires. We also talked about how the water moves through the watershed and will eventually make its way into the Gulf of Mexico. We discussed the differences between well managed upland waters versus urbanized areas. 
A well managed upland creek
A unmanaged urbanized creek

Digging the hole for the sipper
Collecting ground water 
The EPA wet lab
The next day we followed the water from upland down through the watershed to the shore where we were assisting in graduate research of ground water discharge. We used a variety of methods to collect the groundwater. We dug a deep hole and used a type of sipper to extract the water from the ground. We also collected the water as it escaped from the sand  in the shore. To detect where the groundwater was discharging we used a very expensive filtration device to test the water for the isotope Radon-220. We also got to take a tour of the EPA lab. This was the first government lab I had the pleasure of touring. They had a lot of cool equipment they do research with, like that benthic camera! 

Wednesday was another day of assisting with graduate research. On this day we did sea grass surveys, water quality tests, and underwater coring. This was a fun and laid back day since we were pros at this by now. The underwater coring was the most fun. I had to literally be "drowned" underwater so that I could get the core far enough down and then again to get the thing out of the ground. I would definitely do cores like that all the time.

Thursday was probably the toughest as far as conditions go. It was hot, bright, and reflective. This day was all about beach geomorphology. I had never had any experience before with surveying and the different methods that can be used. I really liked using the engineer's level to map the geomorphic breaks in the beach dunes down to the swash zone. Though my favorite piece of equipment I got to use was the most sophisticated, expensive, and complicated piece brought to the beach that day. A grapefruit. (Yeah.) We used the grapefruit to measure the time it took the grapefruit to travel so far down the beach to demonstrate longshore drift.

Thanks Dr. Eble for a great week in Pensacola!!

Pictures: Corey Corrick

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