Sunday, 12 June 2016

Week 4: UWF!

I might be repeating what everyone else has said, but I can't believe it's the last week of this course already! This week at UWF has been the most unique of the Florida areas we've studied so far. Surrounded by long-leaf pine habitat and located almost in the south of Alabama, Pensacola was a unique stop. One thing that struck me about this week, upon reflection, was how all-encompassing it was.  We looked at SO many different elements of this one body of water, Pensacola Bay, it's actually pretty amazing.

On Monday we looked at what water feeds into the bay, and what that water flows through first. In some areas, water runs through gorgeous long-leaf pine habitats; In other places the water runs behind Publix parking lots and residential suburbs. Examining sedimentation, residential threats, and nutrient runoff brought us to a better understanding about what kind of water is filling the bay.

Sweetwater Creek in Blackwater River State Park - Photo Credit: Corey Corrick

 On Tuesday we expanded our knowledge about the water in Pensacola Bay by focusing on groundwater. As we learned, not only is water coming from streams and creeks above-ground; Water that has been absorbed through the soil can also seep into the bay. This brings with it a new array of elemental isotopes and nutrients. But enough about the water, right? We also needed to know what to do with this information. So, we headed over to the EPA lab and got a glimpse of the research being done there. We got to see what questions are being asked, what a job there would look like, and what companies and government agencies are concerned about the bay. This part of the day incorporated humans into the complexity that is Pensacola Bay.

Taking sediment cores at a groundwater seepage site - Photo Credit: Corey Corrick

At the EPA lab - Photo Credit: Corey Corrick
On Wednesday we finally started looking at the living organisms within the bay. Specifically, we were looking at seagrass! This day got us in the water looking at what organisms call the bay home (Hint: there's a lot of blue crabs!). It made us think about how the water we observed on Monday could be affecting the organisms we were looking at.
Separating above- and below-ground seagrass biomass - Photo Credit: Corey Corrick
On Thursday we turned our attention away from the water and instead toward the shore. Looking at beach geomorphology sounded dull at first, but it actually ended up being my favorite day! We got to take a tiny snapshot in time of this shoreline. It was pretty amazing imagining how the shore we were seeing would change in the following months and years.
Learning how to use an inclinometer - Photo Credit: Corey Corrick
Overall, this week was incredibly interesting and brought me to a part of the state I had never been to before (Tallahassee is usually my cutoff). Our instructor was incredibly engaging and the graduate students/professors we got to meet this week were very kind and helpful. I definitely hope to come back here someday!
End of the week Blue Wahoos game! - Photo Credit: Random guy we asked to take the picture

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