Saturday, April 19, 2014

Kristen Ghaffarian U.R. Week in Review

This past week was pretty interesting.  I was getting all prepared for my day out for my research project, and the night before we had a huge rain storm and the following day the wind was surely 20mph or higher.  You wonder why this would be an issue, well I will be boating in the lakes with an inflatable boat.  It is sturdy but with the wind speeds we had that day I would not have been able to keep the boat in place long enough to secure my water samples with the equipment in tow.  Dr. Woodall and I also thought it could pose a safety hazard if I were to possible go overboard with the waves; it'd kind of funny, I know go ahead and chuckle.  So we postponed the research day till next week, so hopefully we have good weather and I will be able to report my day in the field.

Ahoy Matey
 The week of the 11th we worked in the lab as well as in the field.  We collected settling plates from the Marina in Daytona Beach.  One of the buoys with the settling plates had been there for around 6 months.  We each placed the plates in tupperware and took them back to look at under the microscope. It was awesome we came across some invertebrates that looks like alien life forms.  It was really fun to lookup what each living specimen was in source materials, as well as using our own ways of tracking down the info, i.e google.  We also learned how to calculate in excel the area of coverage, it's amazing what you can do with technology nowadays.
Barnacles, Skeleton Shrimp, and more

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Angela, CUR- Plastic and Animals on Terra Firma

Reading "Plastic Ocean" by Captain Charles Moore, I came across an interesting tidbit: cows are fed plastic pellets ...and here I thought my only plastic-food related worry was eating contaminated fish.  According to The Union of Concerned Scientists, plastic is fed as "roughage" to help with digestion due to lack of fiber in a factory cow's diet. It makes me wonder if chemicals/hormones from plastic bioaccumulate in cows, then get passed on to us and our children?

Additionally, marine life and sea birds aren't the only animals that perish due to plastic debris ingestion, as can be seen in the videos below, the problem also affects cows and even camels in the desert. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Shelby Thomas UR- Invertebrates Lab

The Bobs
Last week our lab team got to retrieve the bobs set out 4 weeks ago in the halifax river, in hopes of observing growth of invertebrates among the plates on the bob.

We successfully retrieved it without any problems ore anyone falling in the water! The bob had quite a bit of growth on it including visually recognizable barnacles. There was even small crabs and shrimp living on it. We took the plates off of the Bob and brought them to the lab to further observe the invertebrates living on them.

My Plate 
Each one of us had a plate to look over. My plate had several barnacles on it as well as discovering some of the other species on the plate including pelogic amphripods and eubranchipus vernalis (shrimps), as well as some bryazoans. It was quite interesting to see what life inhabited these plates in such a short time.

Balanus glandula (Barnacle) 
eubranchipus vernalis (Shrimp)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Shelby Thomas UR- Plankton Identification Lab

White Mangrove 
Recently in lab we traveled to New Smyrna Marine Discovery Center to collect plankton and attempt to identify our finds under a microscope. I found it
interesting at how much living plankton could be in one drop of water. We were given the opportunity to try and figure out what species each plankton were. Along with discussing how it might have gotten there to the area and their importance.

Black Mangrove 
 We viewed the black mangrove islands where pelicans and white egrets nest. As well as learning to spot out the invasive species like the australian pine. We learned about the different types of mangroves Black, Red, and White. 

Red Mangrove 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Shelby Thomas UR- Seining in Ponce Inlet

A few weeks ago our lab team learned how to use seine net as a tool to record different fish spices. We teamed up with the Marine Science Center and used the seine net in Ponce Inlet. It was very surprising to me at how many varieties of spices of fish we caught and recorded.

 It was furthermore interesting to see the variation of spices due to location. We did three different seines one in a area of water away from the main current almost in a little cove which is a C shape. In this area we caught small to medium fish including white mullet and even a spotted puffer fish.

The second seine was in a pond connected to the cove where it experiences high and low tide. We seined on low tide and caught mainly smaller fish the size of minos.

Flounder 3rd seine
 The third seine was most interesting to me, it was on the side that opened up to the ocean. The water was slightly choppy but we caught a good variety of fish including another puffer, a flounder, and a sheep head fish.

     Puffer 3rd seine                            SheepHead 3rd seine                           Puffer 1st seine

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Cathy Black UR, Seining

Pulling the sein net in
Our first catch!
Last Friday we went back to Ponce Inlet, not to measure the dune height but to sein fish the waters. We ended up pilling three seins. Chad from the marine science center was out there to help us, he taught us how to cast the sein net out in the water so the fish could not escape. Once we had the sein net fully out in the water and it had creating a U shape to the shore lien, it was time to pull the net in. The trick with pulling in a sein net is you pull the bottom part of the net in, the side with the weights, so it drags against the bottom so no fish can get out while you are pulling it in. We ended up catching over 200 fish in our first sein net, the other pulls did not yield as high as a result, could be do to location, time the net spent in the water, or the area covers. In our first catch we caught a wide range of different species of fish, from mullets to a checkered puffer. The checkered puffer fish is not normally found in the area we found it in, it was a great find! Once we were all said and done fishing, as a group we calculate the catch per unit effort, and we also did the sally wiener scale. There are more pictures on our Facebook page for you to check out.
Checkered puffer

Friday, March 28, 2014

Cathy UR, Last Week

The dunes we surveyed
Last week was a very exciting week for me, in last weeks lab we went out to Ponce Inlet Beach and measured the height and movement of the sand dunes. We also took  1/2 cup samples of the dunes and sieved them. The purpose of us sieving the samples of sand was to analyze the sands partial sizes. We determined that the particle sizes our sieve measured were 6.3mm pebble size, 236mm gravel size, 425um medium sand size, 150um fine sand size and the last sieved we called <150um silt and clay size. As we were examining the different sieves from our west site 3 sample, we notice something that was unnatural to the sand formation process. We found a tiny plastic bead as you can see in the picture below.

This is the plastic bead.
 I was quit shocked about this find, because site west 3 is located on the back side of a sand dune that is proctored and we humans are not supposed to go in this area unless given permission. So this implies that the bead had to travel with the sand in part of the natural dune movement. Who really knows were this bead started its journey and how far it traveled.

On another note, I have been studying up on the methods for using the copper ampules for my research project. I will be using the Hach 890 which will be able to tell me how much copper is in the sample with the range of 0.00-5.00mg/L. Its great that it has such a wide range because the EPA says that there should not be more than 1.3mg/L in our water. I can not wait to get out in the field and take my samples to see what the copper levels in the Tomoka river are!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Valerie Valentine, U.R. Off Shore Dredging and Beach Renourishment


     After speaking to Project Engineer for the Army Corp of Engineers, Paul Cotter, my angle for my project has slightly changed. He informed me that the current dredging in progress in Brevard County is off shore dredging. The sand and sediments are being dredged and then transferred from 5 miles off shore by a tube that runs along the sea floor. The amount of sediment being placed on shore is 312 truck loads an hour. This process is called beach re-nourishment. I would like to compare the beach sediments. I will collect the sediments from before the re-nourishment and then after the deep water sediment has been replaced onshore. Some questions I am posing are how do theses sediments differ? How could this impact the shore as well as the ocean floor? Once I travel to the site just south of the Port of Canaveral, I will assess the magnitude of this operation. Mr. Cotter and I spoke for a long time about the costs and restrictions that may make the operation difficult to proceed at times; such as machine maintenance, environmental protest, and limited time as turtle season approaches. But the cost of this production is $24 million per day. The crew works 24/7 and will complete a little over 20 miles of Brevards Beach re-nourishment. How many truck loads would that be? Mr. Cotter's argument is that we are avoiding the harmful effects of thousands of truck loads, which was the old way of bringing the sand in for the beach. I am excited to get to the site this week and assess this for myself.

On a side note, below is a link to the info about the St. Johns River Clean up....

St. Johns River Cleanup

April 12, 2014
8 to 11:00 a.m.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Kristen Ghaffarian U.R. Week in Review

This past week was pretty fun, we got to get into a different kind of research.  We surveyed the sand dunes in Ponce Inlet, got to know some new instruments and methods.  It was challenging with the wind, but the weather was perfect and we had a good time.
As far as my research project is concerned, I am getting my outline for what I will need, procedures and making sure I have everything I need to secure a day with Dr. Woodall to come and help me with the expensive instruments.  I have been practicing with my mac excel and powerpoint so that I am familiar with the programs.  The graphs are easy to comprehend, you know which one you want to use and how it should look, it is the process of telling the computer how to do it.  This week was pretty quiet for me, planning for the research project and getting ready for the seining this coming Friday.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bryton Wolfe U.R. Week In review

Swell Height chart for March 20th

      Continuing upon my research as to how frontal boundaries affect swells in the region I followed this week quite in detail. With the massive front that drove through our region the passed few days I have noticed a distinct correlation with how a front really affects the ocean around it. At the leading edge of the front in which it becomes quite rainy I noticed that there wasn't much of a swell to begin with. Ranging in the 2-3 foot range with extremely short periods of approximately 8 seconds. It wasn't until after the rain subsided and the wind picked up to about the 15-20mph range was when I noticed a distinct build in the surf. For instance, Today, Thursday March 20th, there is a swell height of 3-5 feet at a period of 12 seconds! One piece of evidence that I found fascinating was that it is actually after primary frontal boundary (where all the rain is) that the swell is affected rather than the boundary itself. I will continue research into this with the next front expected to hit Tuesday of next week.
Wind Speed March 20th
Swell Period March 20th
Attached are a couple of pictures that show satellite images of swell period, height, and wind speed. Using the equations in class I am able to determine wave speed and wavelength Which could be used to predict how good the surf is expected to be as well as an the height at which the wave will break.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Valerie Valentine, U.R. - Dredging, turbidity and seagrass

The above research states that seagrass needs 15-25% surface irradiance (energy from the sun) which is noted to be a high light requirement compared to the needs of other marine growth. The effects of human activities within the Indian River Lagoon affected the seagrass growth. The most significant of these are the fluctuation of salinity, water runoff, dredging and chemical pollutants. Sea grass is used as an indicator to the estuary's health condition. If the sea grass is diminishing then the water is unwell.

A lagoon-wide seagrass monitoring program led by scientists from the St. Johns River Water Management District is responsible for monitoring long-term trends in IRL seagrass population status, health, and coverage trends. Data from this program and associated water quality monitoring programs indicates that the amount of light reaching the benthic habitat is the primary factor limiting seagrass coverage in the lagoon. Water column turbidity, chlorophyll a concentration, and color are the principal determinants of water clarity in the lagoon, with turbidity being by far the most important” (Christian and Shang 2003). and Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce.


My scientific efforts will show how much turbidity and for how long does the increased turbidity linger due to maintenance dredging in the Brevard County section of IRL. Also, noting how much light is needed for the seagrass to survive. In the past week I have contacted the Army Corp of Engineers and was informed of the scheduled maintenance dredging occurring at this time in Brevard. My projected plan is to test the turbidity very near the dredging site. I will then return for samples every two weeks until the water clears or my lab time has ended with a decreased level records. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Shelby Thomas UR~ Algae project

      After unfortunately forgetting my flash drive I still have yet to give my mid term presentation, which I will present this tuesday prior oceanography class fortunately. I have come to decide to test with four different tanks with four different temperatures. I will need four growth lights of at least 13 watts to grow algae but I choose to have a 60 watt growth light. Certainly a change of light intensity
could change the growth of algae as well which could be its own experiment within itself. I will be measuring the growth with a measuring scale and measure the weight of the algae as well as comparing it visually.  I will be using water heaters set to a specific temperature. I will be using 60, 70, 80, 90 degree fahrenheit increments. Allowing algae to grow for two weeks. I think algae growth will be most productive at 80 degrees. I am eager to start this experiment hopefully within the next week or two. Time to grow some Algae!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bryton U.R. This Week In Review

This past week has been a disheartening disappointment. As some of you might be well aware, I was in a car accident last Thursday thus resulting in a broken nose and severely bruised knee. However, aside from that set back it led to not having any transportation in order to continue my field work in person. However, with today's technology I was still able to observe what conditions were with the frontal boundary that had just moved in this week. Using this webcam I was able to observe the approximate conditions of the surf at Ponce Inlet. Furthermore using near shore buoys I was able to get an approximate swell height, along with periods and wind speeds. As a result, my accident wasn't a total loss and I was capable of continuing my research in the field. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Cathy, UR- Copper in our Waterways

This image shows two man applying copper pesticides/fungicides to a canal.
This past week I have spent many hours reading information of the effects of copper in the water on the ecosystem and humans. Most of what I read was about humans, I have learned this week that we need very small amounts of copper for our body's to function. But that anything above 1.3mg/L is consider toxic and can has harmful effects on our bodies. There are natural and human sources of copper but the most common source is copper pesticides. The main way copper pesticides are used in Florida is when they are applied to Florida's waterways to control aquatic plants and algae growth. I am very eager to get out there and test my samples to see what the copper levels are. I am hoping that they are low and there is little to action needed to take place.

Angela, CUR-Driftology

You know that expression "Can't see the forest for the trees"? During my research regarding plastic on Florida's beaches I was so focused on types of plastic and East versus West coast, I didn't seem to notice an obvious detail in my debris map:

At the open house for the new IMES facility, Chad Macfie from the Marine Science Center noted that the majority of my plastic on the East Coast was towards the South. In all honesty, there could be a discrepancy in my data because I had not fully established my research methods and protocol, yet, when I started collecting plastic in the North. Also, if (during my project) I had collected plastic in a touristy area such as Daytona Beach I would've added a northern location with hundreds of pieces of plastic. However, of the hundreds of pieces I've come across on Daytona Beach's shores after the completion of my project, there weren't many I considered to be "ocean plastic" but mainly items left behind by visitors. 

The majority of "ocean plastic" seems to have washed on to the East coast's southern shores and this may be due to, as Chad pointed out, the Gulf Stream's vicinity to the beaches in the south.  To test whether the Gulf Stream and surface currents are washing debris onto Florida's beaches, a long-term drift bottle research project could shed some light on the matter. Just need several hundred bottles and a ship that would take us out to the Gulf Stream somewhere between the Keys and South America. ;)