Today marks the last day of our Session III college courses, and while we’re sad to see them go, we’re looking forward to welcoming our next group of students to campus! Plus, we still have one more class to recap in Session III, and these students have traveled up and down the coast to explore and compare a variety of different ecosystems.
Coastal Environmental Oceanography began with two weeks in the Florida Keys, studying coastal environments down in Florida to eventually compare them to the ecology of our barrier island environment here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Dr. Sean Cornell of Shippensburg University led his class in learning about the differences between the nutrient-rich coastal ecosystems of Virginia and the nutrient-poor ecosystems of Florida. Their base camp in Florida was the Florida Keys Marine Lab.
After two weeks of field work in Florida’s Everglades, the Florida Bay, the keys, and the barrier coral reefs, the class headed back to Chincoteague to learn about our ecosystems here and compare them to what they experienced first-hand in Florida. This last week of the class was spent both in the field and in the lab, working on final projects.
On Thursday, the class spent their last day on the water out in Tom’s Cove trawling for fish in order to catalog the diversity of species in their field journals. They also studied sediment to see what kind of environment these organisms live in. Along with the blue crabs common to this area, many of which had egg sponges attached, the students also caught a butterfly ray, an Atlantic bullnose ray, a seahorse, and many different types of fish.
“We went out and we saw an Atlantic stingray, and it had two barbs on the back,” Danielle from Shippensburg University said. “It was awesome!”
Students enjoyed the diverse environments that the class offered to them, and getting hands-on field work experience.
“It was definitely a very unique experience,” Patrick from Shippensburg University said. “Most classes you only look at one little section, but this class pulls everything together and makes you look at everything in a different light. It was very enjoyable.”
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