NCBS Intern Report: Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserves Coastal Monitoring

Written by 2023 Undergraduate Intern Liel Shachr, hosted by the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve and FL Dept. of Environmental Protection

Seagrass Monitoring

This summer, I had the privilege of interning at the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserves (BBSAP) under the management of Tim Jones. The BBSAP team manages two of the FDEP’s Aquatic Preserves, which spans over one million acres of submerged lands across 5 counties. During this time, I was able to gain hands-on experience with field work and management practices from the BBSAP team. As part of their program, they conducted annual seagrass monitoring surveys, in which I was able to learn biological monitoring techniques and data analysis. I was able to learn how to identify seagrass and algae species, assist with coverage analysis using percent cover analysis, and practice surveys on my own. This year was especially unique, because of an urchin bloom that was happening at one of our seagrass sites. BBSAP was notified of an urchin bloom in Keaton Beach, Florida, in early January. They began surveying the population and mass grazing effects they had on seagrass beds. I assisted with urchin test measurements, coverage surveys, and shoot height surveys.

Water Quality Monitoring

BBSAP is also responsible for collecting valuable water quality data including monthly nutrient sampling and continuous datalogger monitoring. Throughout the duration of my internship, I assisted with the team collecting monthly water samples and learning to use lab equipment. I learned how to work with the YSI EXO handheld, EXO2, and EXO 3. This meant I acquired essential skills such as calibrating, post calibrating, and how to deploy them in the field. The team also gave me more insight into the program by explaining the readings and their importance for scientists who could potentially use this data for their research.




We also collaborated with different projects and government agencies in the area. We came along with the FSU Marine Turtle Research Ecology and Conservation group (MRTEC) to view loggerheads and green sea turtles being caught, tagged, and released in St. Martins Marsh! Another highlight was a trip up to the Rainbow Springs Aquatic Preserves where we helped their team spearfish for invasive plecos- which erode the banks of the river due to their digging of nests. I also participated in one of the many cleanups that BBSAP participates in. At the Cedar Key Marine Debris Cleanup that BBSAP partnered to make happen, we removed 40 pieces of cover netting and 5 oyster bags!

Thank you

I am so grateful to have experienced this once in a lifetime internship and learn from experts. The experience and skills I have gained from this summer will certainly be beneficial in the career path I look forward to continuing. It has highlighted the many ways one can contribute to conservation science as well as emphasize the importance of monitoring programs. Thank you to Tim Jones, Kata Suchanec, Trisha Green, Sandra Chupinsky, and the Nature Coast Biological Station for this opportunity!


| Follow the link to learn more about the UF/IFAS NCBS Undergraduate Summer Internship program. Read more intern blogs here. |


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Posted: November 27, 2023

Category: Coasts & Marine, Natural Resources, UF/IFAS Research, , Water
Tags: Aquatic Preserve, Coastal Habitat, Coastal Systems, Florida Department Of Environmental Protection, NCBS Interns, Seagrass, Water Quality

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