It’s been a crazy week, so I’m ready for a break with the upcoming three day weekend: between field trips to the beach and a two day research cruise, REU has been a non-stop adventure! I plan to spend some time relaxing and getting my tan on at the beach in Savannah. What are your plans for the weekend?
On Sunday, a few of the kids in the REU program and I headed to the historic Savannah Riverfront to do some shopping and see the sights. We walked along river street and explored the cute little shops, including River Street Sweets, Earthbound Trading Company, and the Savannah Bee Company—they had the best honey samples ever, and I even got my mom a little present! We also walked along E. Bryan street, which had a bunch of fun thrift stores, an Urban Outfitters, and parts of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) campus. We rounded out the day with ice cream: I got vanilla on a cone, and it was absolute perfection.
On Monday morning, I got up at five AM to head out for the REU’s two day research cruise aboard the Skidaway Institute’s boat, the R/V Savannah (I later learned that R/V stands for research vessel!). We got to watch the sun rise as we packed up the boat, and then around eight in the morning we left the dock to head 75 nautical miles out to the open ocean!
We started the day out with an ocean trawl, where a net is strung out from the back of the boat to the bottom of the ocean, where we collect a bunch of marine life. We got quite the catch, including spade fish, mouth fish, flounder, tons of horseshoe crabs, mantis shrimp, a butterfly ray, and baby scalloped hammerhead shark (which, sadly, didn’t survive the journey). It was really amazing seeing all of the diversity and trying to categorize everything. Plus, when we brought the trawl net back up to the boat, a ton of dolphins and sea birds came to the area, looking for a free meal, which was neat! We also did some marine sediment collection periodically during the journey, which was neat; I got to see the progression of particle size and texture all the way out to the Gulf Stream.
During the cruise, we preformed two main research activities; dolphin observation, and phytoplankton and water sampling. During dolphin observation, we would stand at the bow (front) of the boat and watch for dolphins, and record the longitude, latitude, and species of dolphins when the appeared. The dolphins loved riding the bow of the boat when we were going faster; they were glide along in front of the ship, and leap into the air! It could get a little tiring, standing at the front of the ship in the hot sun scanning the ocean for hours on end, but every time we saw a dolphin I totally felt like it was worth it! I love those animals.
For phytoplankton and water sampling, we lowered a device called a CTD/Niskin Bottle Rosette into the water. The device is able to measure the amount of chlorophyll in the water, salinity, temperature, and depth, and it has bottles attached that can be “fired” at different depths to collect water. We used the device to collect water samples from two to three hundred meters below the surface, which we later used for phytoplankton and water quality testing. The device needs a lot of preparation, and the water samples have to be collected carefully, so we had to work the machine in shifts; I had to get up at 4:00 AM to work the machine on Tuesday. Eeep! However, I actually really enjoyed the water collection, and watching the shipboard graphing of the different parameters.
Overall, the cruise was a ton of fun! I got briefly sea sick, after trying to look through some binoculars, but after that I was fine. When we weren’t working, we were catching catnaps in our bunks; it was actually really nice to fall asleep to the sound of the waves and the rocking of the ship! Plus, you really can’t beat the “unlimited” supply of free ice cream available in the freezer of a boat. Hello, popsicle overload.
Thursday, the REU group went on a field trip with our advisor, Dr. Gilligan, to Tybee Island. We made four stops; first, we went to the Spanish Hammock salt marsh, where Dr. Gilligan talked about salt marsh dieback, and the different theories surrounding the phenomenon. We saw little salt marsh snails, pretty flowers, fiddler crabs, and pickle weed—a salty plant that you can eat!
Our next two stops were the north and south beaches of Tybee, where we check out the tide pools in and around the jetties, and looked a little at tides. We finished up the day with a visit to Fort Pulaski, a beautiful brick fort that was lost to the south in the civil war.
We spent the remainder of Thursday and the rest of Friday examining the phytoplankton we got on the research cruise; we used microscopes to identify dinoflagellates and diatoms in the water. We learned some scientific research report tips, and started writing our “mini research report” on the water testing work we did on the cruise—it will serve as a nice precursor to our real reports! After working, a bunch of us hit up the dollar store together (I stocked up on tissues because of a nasty cold I picked up, and discovered dollar store frozen strawberries!), and I spent an admittedly mundane night doing laundry and the like; my roomie had left for the long weekend, and even though I like her it was kinda of nice to have some just-me-time!
Fifteen Minute Red Curry Rice and Vegetables
Frozen Vegetable Mix: broccoli, carrots, peas, green beans, corn
Ground Cayenne (Red Pepper) to taste
Tablespoon Red Curry Paste
1/3 cup Light Coconut Milk
Cooked Long Grain Brown Rice
Mix the red pepper, coconut milk, and red curry paste in a small microwavable bowl. Add the frozen vegetables, mix, and place in the microwave until hot (about 8 minutes). Pour over cooked rice and enjoy!
I’m thinking of starting a new feature of the meals I cook, because I only have a stove, a microwave, and majorly limited fridge and storage space to work with right now, so I really have to be creative. Thoughts?