NCBS Intern Report – Big Bend Seagrass and Water Quality Monitoring
NCBS Intern Report by: Kelly Colvin, Intern with UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station and FDEP St. Martin’s Marsh and Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserves
This summer I worked in St. Martins Marsh and Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserves (BBSAP) as a seagrass monitoring and assessment intern. My main office for the summer was the Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Coastal Office (FCO) located in Crystal River Preserve State Park.
What does a seagrass monitoring internship entail?
As an intern I took part in programs that the BBSAP currently maintains. These included seagrass and water quality monitoring programs. To conduct seagrass monitoring I had to learn the six different species of seagrass and several species of algae that occur in the Big Bend. This was important in order for me to identify them at the monitoring sites. I also got to see several animals such as starfish, scallops, and sea urchins that live in and around the seagrass beds.
I took part in water quality monitoring more often than seagrass monitoring. There are two water quality programs that BBSAP is involved in: Nutrient Monitoring and UF’s project COAST (Coastal Assessment Team). Each program has their own locations within BBSAP, and at each location there are multiple monitoring sites. Between both of these programs I conducted sampling out of the Suwannee, Withlacoochee, Waccasassa, Homosassa, Steinhatchee, and Crystal Rivers, among other sites. So as you might gather, there was a lot of time spent traveling to the many locations during the internship.
Other internship duties
Other opportunities came up over the span of my internship that allowed me to help out with different projects in the area. One day I was able to assist Emma Pisotle with her graduate project on snook research by helping her pull a large seine net in Crystal River.
I also got to work with Rainbow Springs and Oklawaha River Aquatic Preserve to collect water visibility data. Helping the preserve manager collect data in Rainbow River was a special treat for me because my family and I have been going to Rainbow River ever since I was 8 years old. I was also able to collect the similar data on the Silver River, which was beautiful. It was also exhilarating because we happened to come across an invasive pleco fish, or Suckermouth catfish, and capture it.
The last week of my internship I got to be a part of Science Discovery Camp at Crystal River Preserve State Park which was a lot of fun because I have never directly participated as an instructor for a group of kids before. Most of the days I chaperoned the kids and helped out where needed, but I also helped teach some different lessons and activities that I think the kids really enjoyed.