Monday, November 10, 2008

Long Key

Day 1
There was an obscene amount of driving that occurred on this day. We left around 7am or so and didn’t get to mile 68(Long Key) till about 11pm! But you know what, it wasn’t that bad, probably because my seat partner slept for 10 out of 16 hours of the drive (Lynn, hahaha)and mostly because the group I was privileged embark on this adventure were sooo awesome! I traveled a lot in groups through the years with sports and there is always some type of drama that occurs but there was nothing of the sort on this trip. This was mostly because everyone was incredibly easy-going and did I mention awesome! As layer after layer came off as 16 hours on driving from cold to hot, mountain air to salt air progressed I came closer and closer to edge of the back seat on the12 passenger silver van. Once we finally arrive in the middle of the night the warm salty breeze hit my cheeks and lungs and the 16 hours disappeared.
Day 2
The day starts at 9 am when we get to try on wetsuits for the snorkeling and data collection exercises were going to do in the next few days. The weather wasn’t all that glorious in the morning with heavy wind from the north and a potential thunderstorm coming with it. The group decided to snorkel in the backyard basin of the KML (Keys Marine Laboratory) and do a little sight-seeing in Key West in the afternoon. During the first snorkel, I learned the difference between turtle grass (shorter thick bladed grass) and manatee grass (longer thin bladed grass). A fare warning about Cassiopeia was given the night before and was one of the first organisms that was identified to me.
Cassiopeia Jellyfish
The Upside Down Jellyfish named because its flattened bell (head) rests on the bottom. It extends its frilly tentacles up into the water column where they capture planktonic food and absorb light that is used by photosynthetic algae that are housed in its body. It also prefers a wide sandy bottom to the aquarium and requires high intensity light for photosynthesis to occur. It will not tolerate copper or high nitrates in the water, and since its body is composed of 95% to 98% water, sudden changes in salinity or pH can have radical consequences.
Then I noticed various shaped what looked liked semi-clear balloons on the bottom of the sea floor. These I was told by Dr. Childress were egg cases for a variety of mollusks.

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