Posted by K.Bylsma, C-IMAGE , Teacher at Sea  on Saturday , August 12 pm-

What an incredible day of learning. After I worked on the Bongo nets a couple of times collecting, analyzing and preserving biomass with Kat Ternus, I returned to the filtering lab. What many outsiders consider a very dull group of people ( scientists) were far from dull. This evening was a our second site of the day as we are ahead of the outlined schedule—flexible, remember. Joe as running the nitrogen tests, while Sue was running her favorite chlorophyll tests. I was left with the urea and “extraordinary” pigment tests I told you about before. We were truly a well oiled machine, truly enjoying the task at hand and each other’s company. So, today, we completed PCB03, and PCB02. What a day!

Several things I did notice in the transition times, though. I saw 2 cabin cruisers  and a house fly and a dragonfly. Why is that important when we’re out in the Gulf?

I have several additional questions, though, for students:

*How do you explain the cloud patterns over the water as compared to the cloud patterns at your house/school?

* What is a whale shark and why would they be found in the Gulf?

* What types of dolphins are found in the Gulf? I saw several again today.


Now that we have collected all of these samples and some data, these and MANY other scientists will take them to their labs and compile the data. What I have heard from these scientists over and over again is that they and their colleagues have collected VOLUMES of data ( the SIPPER has terrabytes of images to be identified), but there are not enough scientists to do the work in a timely manner. One of the fields that I heard repeatedly mentioned as lacking personnel was taxonomy. We’re not training enough people to painstakingly identify species, whether by images from the SIPPER, samples from the SHIPEK or water samples from each of TWELVE stations this trip alone.

Joe , an undergraduate student at USF is here because he is studying Environmental Policy and is taking his girlfriend’s place this cruise ( pictured above with the Bongo nets). We’ve been working together off and on this week. Ironically, he went to high school in this area and like many high school students he had trouble finding his passion in the classroom. His district opened an Environmental center and he was hooked ! He states that his entire outlook on learning changed. Prior to this time, there was no active involvement in his learning , no hands on/ minds on exchange. He states that “ the lightbulb went off”. What greater reward is there than knowing that you made a difference in someone’s life?  His teachers certainly have made a difference.

When I heard this from Joe, it reminded me that each child we see this year and every year is a “ Joe” searching for his niche. We, as teachers are the wayfarers nudging and encouraging them at stages in that venture.

It’s now 2200 and the group is enjoying each other’s company in the galley with an old movie that they’ve each already seen.

Looks as if tomorrow is PCB01 starting at 0800 and possibly into Panama City around noon.