Bermuda Field Course 2012 :: Daily Report
Day 09 | Friday, March 16, 2012
Survey of Whalebone Bay
Since we had completed the scheduled research trips to each of the various tropical environments earlier in the week, Friday was planned as a “Survey Day” for us to revisit any sites to collect more data. We decided to return to Whalebone Bay as a group, because we hadn't actually collected any data there on our first visit.
Whalebone Bay is a fairly diverse marine area, with several different types of habitats, including sand flats, rocky shoreline, and coral reef. We returned to the bay to map out these biotype areas, and roughly quantify the different species in them, in order to characterize the species contained within the bay. Small groups were each assigned a separate biotype to sample. Data collection was fairly straightforward, and we chose to use a sampling method which we were taught on Coral Day to compile a species list (I think the lecturers were happy that we were able to adapt a technique we had learned to a new experiment). After the species list was finished we were able to map out the habitats of Whalebone Bay and found that many species within it, had their own environmental preferences within the bay.
In addition to collecting data, this trip was a really nice way to round out the week, because it allowed us to collect data, but also to have a little fun in the water with our colleagues. We all managed to see something new and interesting; for my part, it was a large pufferfish tucked up underneath a rock ledge. It was incredible to see an organism that I have only known from aquariums in its real environment, and it was a moment that stuck with me all day.
It was also great to see everyone working together to collect the data, despite the fact that it wasn't data which would be graded in the end. It was readily apparent that Southampton and Wilmington students had come together over the week and formed close bonds with each other. I really hope that future students have the opportunity to conduct research with international students, because it is an eye-opening experience. Our survey of Whalebone Bay has reminded me that when scientific research is being done, everyone on the team brings something different to the table. Whether it's a creative way to design an experiment, a knowledge of statistical software, or even just the ability to keep people laughing, everyone contributes, and together our knowledge of the world can be expanded through science.
- Jennifer Dean
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