The high school students are still having fun, working, and learning a lot as we head towards 8pm on day 2! We’ve spent the last two days performing labs, attending classes, collecting samples, and experiencing marine ecosystems firsthand. Yesterday started with an orientation followed by a trip to the cold seagrass ecosystem. Students braved the conditions and observed the underwater environment and its inhabitants. Classroom sessions followed to discuss our observations and ecosystem sustainability. Students got on the boats again for a nighttime plankton tow in Largo Sound under the stars. Back in the lab, we were astounded to see our collections under the microscopes. (no plankton were harmed..)
Today’s underwater excursions included trips to the mangroves and the coral reefs, including stops at Grecian Dry Rocks and Largo Dry Rocks. The mangroves revealed to us such diversity as lettuce sea slugs, sea stars, tulip snails, blue-eyed scallops, and more, all of which were brought on board for closer inspection before their release.
The most popular trips so far were to the world famous coral reefs. The diversity of organisms, the colors, and the warmth all contributed to their popularity. Stingrays, sharks, anemones, barracudas, lobsters, and all kinds of reef fish were sighted and kept the students talking excitedly between dives. None of the above-mentioned were brought on board. Other than the students, of course.. ANYWAY, students have showered and eaten, and they are currently taking part in the ‘invertebrate lab’, where they are collecting, identifying, and observing invertebrates straight from our small but beautiful beach area.
This lab will be followed by another reef fish identification class to prepare us for tomorrow morning’s return to the reefs! Things should wrap up around 9:45pm, in time for some personal hygiene before lights out..
The weather is great, wish you were here~