Wallops Island Marine Consortium Class Explores the Keys

Once again, Dr. Sean Cornell, professor at Shippensberg College (Shippensberg, PA) traveled to the Florida Keys with the Marine Science Consortium class, (Wallops Island, VA).
Students gathered data at one of the KML Living Laboratory Near-shore Benthic Monitoring sites

photos by T Bartlett
Exploring the rocky inter-tidal/hard-bottom habitat along the south shore of Indian Key State Park

Thirteen students from 7 universities enthusiastically participated in comprehensive comparisons of the coastal ecosystems between Wallops Island and the Keys.
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Florida Aquarium "Teacher workshop on coral reef ecosystems"


Fifteen teachers, grades 8-12, experienced a week of "total immersion" in the various ecosystems of the Florida Keys. Heather Judkins, Teacher Programs Coordinator for The Florida Aquarium (Tampa, FL), offered a workshop on "Chemical Processes Associated with Coral Reef Ecosystems" in July 2013. 
Learning water sampling techniques at a Florida Bay site
 After each snorkel, everyone gathered around Heather to summarize their experiences.

Heading back to KML after a day of snorkeling
 They all left with exhausted smiles and a greater appreciation of The Keys. This was Heather's first KML experience and she promises to return.
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FAU students take a fish-eye view of marine habitats


No, this is not synchronized swim class. Dr. Stephen Kajiura, professor at Florida Atlantic University, brought 17 graduate students down to KML for their Sensory Biology and Behavior of Fish field trip in October. They spent 3 days exploring the various marine habitats, observing and discussing fish behavior.
Moving off the reef into deep water, students paired up to see how well they could navigate (ie swim a straight line) without visual references, such as being able to see the bottom. Students all agreed that they would make very poor fish. In another exercise, they were challenged to detect sounds of varying frequencies, while under water at varying depths and distances from the sound source.
Dr. Kajiura and his grad students are frequent visitors to KML, studying elasmobranch sensory abilities.
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First visit for Randolph-Macon College


First-time visitor to KML, Grace Lim-Fong, assistant professor of Biology at Randolph-Macon College (Ashland, VA), ventured to the Keys with 8 enthusiastic marine biology students.
They spent a rigorous week at the lab, learning about the various habitats, marine life, and designing experiments for class presentations.

Students collecting data at the Bamboo Key Living Lab site

One challenge in the marine environment is learning techniques for collecting data. The students participated in KML's Living Lab project, collecting data at 3 of our 5 permanent near-shore sites, using belt transects, line intercept, and quadrat sampling methods.


Upon their return to Randolph-Macon, Professor Lim-Fong and her students sent us a school pennant, signed by all the students, which is hanging in the Classroom in our "Who's Who at KML" display.
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A long road to the Keys from Idaho


Graduate and undergraduate geology students from the University of Idaho (Moscow, ID) came to the Keys in March to warm their bones while studying the Modern Carbonate Sediments of the Florida Keys. Led by their professor, Dr. Peter Isaacson, they explored some of the geological highlights of the Keys.

They had an opportunity sample the shoreline sediments and snorkel live coral reefs near KML. Then, in contrast, they visited Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, where they saw 125,000 year old coral formations in the walls of the old quarry.


Once back in Idaho, the students signed their U. Idaho pennant, which now hangs in the Who's Who at KML display in our Classroom.

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Duke Marine Geologists at KML


Professor Gary Dwyer, Duke University (Durham, NC), explored the Marine Geology of South Florida with his undergraduate students for a week in March.

Core sampling at Old Dan Bank

Using KML as home base, they experienced a variety of marine habitats from the Everglades to Key West.
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Students from University of Mainz, Germany


Professors Bernhard Lieb, Frank Depoix, and Bettina Ebner, from the Department of Zoology at the University of Mainz, led a group of 20 students on an extended field trip to Keys Marine Lab. Using KML as their home base, they explored a variety of tropical habitats. The students enthusiastically snorkeled mangrove, reef, and near-shore hard-bottom habitats in spite of unseasonably cool temperatures.


Students embarked on the self-guided tour of the former settlement at Indian Key State Park

...and explored the rocky intertidal zone at Indian Key

They collected and identified various marine flora and fauna and tried their hand at several collection and sampling techniques. The group also took some time to venture up to the Everglades, and of course, to Key west. As they departed, they were already talking about bringing another group next year.
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FGCU students experience KML's Living Lab

Marine Ecology students from Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Meyers, visited KML to get hands-on experience in a marine environment. Led by their professor, Dr. Micheal Parsons, they participated in KML's Living Laboratory Project (see KML website for more details). Students learned first-hand the challenges of laying out a site grid and doing belt transects and point counts while snorkeling, at 2 of the selected sites.


Actual data collected by the students will be added to the growing data base for the project and can be compared to previous assessments at each site.

Also down from FGCU was Dr. Robert Erdman's Invertebrates class. Students snorkeled various habitats, including seagrassbeds, mangroves, intertidal zones, and patch reefs, collecting and identifying animals for their studies. One of the days' highlights included the thrill of observing an 8' Hammerhead chasing fish near-by!
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Clemson students field-test KML Living Laboratory Project

Clemson University and the KML Living Laboratory.

The Clemson University Conservation of Marine Resources creative inquiry team participated in the first biodiversity census of the KML Living Laboratory.

Learning the Biodiversity of the Keys.

The CMR team, under the direction of Dr. Michael Childress, helped set-up and census four biodiversity plots including one in the hardbottom habitat adjacent to the Keys Marine Laboratory.

Learning to Measure Biodiversity.

Graduate student teaching assistant TJ Jordan leads the students through a dry-run of the data collection methods that use line, belt and whole plot census methods to enumerate the density of benthic invertebrates and fishes.

Laying Out a Census Plot

Dr. Michael Childress directed CMR students in the all-important placement of grid lines prior to data collection. He then snorkeled amongst them to answer questions and assist in correctly identifying organisms.

Taking Data While on Snorkel

The CMR students collected data on the type of benthic substrate and the density of sponges, corals, octocorals, anemones, echinoderms, mollusks, crustacaeans, and benthic fishes.

Assessing the Impact of Mass Sponge Mortality

In the fall of 2007, a mass sponge mortality occurred on Florida Bay side of Long Key killing a majority of large sponges such as this ancient loggerhead sponge. The KML Living laboratory project will monitor and document the changes in biodiversity on both impacted and non-impacted sites to assess the impact of this most recent disturbance.

KML Living Laboratory Seeks Volunteers

Classes visiting KML are invited to participate in the KML Living Laboratory project. For more information regarding how to get involved please contact KML staff biologist Cindy Lewis

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Invertebrate class from NSU visits KML

Students from Nova Southeastern University recently came to KML to study invertebrates in the field with their instructor, Dr. Charles Messing. They explored creatures at Old Dan Bank.....
...and snorkeled off-shore near Long Key State Park.
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St. Louis, MO group explores Keys habitats

Recent visitors to KML included a group of 13 students from St. Louis Community College and Washington University from St Louis, MO. Dr. Mark Manteuffel, first time visitor to KML, introduced his students to the common flora and fauna associated with the varied habitats of the Florida Keys. Students had the opportunity to snorkel among the mangroves of Zane Grey Creek, explore a near-shore hardbottom site off Craig Key, and take a trip to Alligator Reef where they snorkeled and tried their hand at plankton tows. And of course no Keys experience is complete without a day in Key West!
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