As part of Harbor Branch's contributions to data collection during the 2014 Okeanos Explorer expedition in the Gulf of Mexico, faculty, students, and staff were asked to reflect on their experiences working in an Exploration Command Center (ECC). Voss lab's Michael Studivan, Hanisak lab's technician/student Kristen Davis, and Dr. Shirley Pomponi all had featured blog posts, which can be found here, here, and here, respectively. In addition to the outreach via social media (@VossLaboratory), our team assisted in live annotating species and benthic characteristics on the West FL shelf. These particular dives were meant to explore deepwater (500m) Lophelia reefs, which are critical habitat for many invertebrate and fish species, some of which are commercially important. Check out our tweets from the dive days and our lab Flickr for the highlights!
Check out our Twitter @VossLaboratory for live tweeting and photos from NOAA Okeanos Explorer ROV dives!
Today's dive was focused on the West Florida Escarpment. The underlying geology was mostly carbonate rock with a coating of FeMn on the top. Voss lab technician Maureen Williams and Ph.D. candidate Michael Studivan played important roles in IDing and tracking deep coral species and associated fish. One of the highlights of the dive was the Grimpoteuthis, aka Dumbo Octopus, spotted around 2000m. Work within the overall CIOERT database and the NOAA framework will continue this week. Check back here for exciting discoveries or follow us on twitter!
The Voss lab uses many different technological applications to describe coral reefs and answer research questions, including molecular biology platforms, specialized diving equipment, and presentations tools. We have been using some pieces of equipment to describe the water conditions on St. Lucie Reef for a while now, such as temperature and salinity data loggers. While we can't be out on the reef sampling at all times, these loggers give us the opportunity to see what happens on the reef on a daily basis. Josh, Courtney, Alycia, and Maureen are out swapping the loggers today so that we can download the data from the past six weeks.
But, there is a new addition to the Voss lab research capabilities: a remote control quadcopter with a high definition camera. Quadcopters have been gaining popularity in the recreational market, but we can also use them to capture aerial photos and videos of research sites and add another layer of understanding about our sites. In particular, we can use a quadcopter to determine the extent of the blackwater flow on the reef during lake discharge events, photograph the location of the reef, and even provide action shots of our lab working in the field.
So, while the rest of the lab is out on this gorgeous day, Michael will be practicing quadcopter flying and aerial videography back at HBOI with a practice quadcopter. Keep an eye out for some new aerial videos and photos that should be coming up on our Flickr!
Master's Candidate Courtney Klepac and PhD Candidate Michael Studivan both presented their research projects at FAU's Graduate and Professional Student Association Research Day. Courtney's poster highlighted the conclusions of her Master's project on St. Lucie Reef and Michael focused on his proposed reciprocal transplant experiment in Belize. Both students impressed with their well-designed experiments and visually stimulating posters. To see more details about their individual projects, please click here.