Expedition Journal

Florida DEP
Florida Bay Research Team

Over the course of the week, we've worked with many different people from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Allow us to introduce some of them:

John Hunt

John Hunt is the head of the DEP's Florida Bay project. This project encompasses phytoplankton research, seagrass research, faunal surveys, fishery independent monitoring, spiny lobster research, algae bloom mapping and marine turtle surveys. The DEP utilizes GIS to link these various research programs in the spatial context of Florida Bay. This week during the JASON Project we are participating in only part of the DEP's research. John is a Host Researcher for JASON VII.

Carm Tomas, Ph.D.

Carm Tomas is in charge of the analysis of the Phytoplankton and the water of Florida Bay. Carm's group is working on primary and secondary production. The primary production project even uses radioactive isotopes. This group is also analyzing phytoplankton biomass by researching chlorophyll content and doing nutrient bioassays.

Carol Burkeart

Carol Burkeart is a Ph. D. student studying the egg production rate of copepods from the different water collection areas in Florida Bay. She does a lot of field work and also spends a lot of time in the lab. She analyzes, designs, calculates, counts, mixes, chases, laughs... basically, does everything! Carol is great to work with and is wonderful explaining all the things she knows so much about.

Fran Decker

Fran is the Coordinator of the Florida Bay Watch Program volunteers. Fran organizes the volunteers who collect water samples on a monthly basis.

Kevin Johns

Kevin Johns works in Carm Tomas' phytoplankton group. By adding different nutrients to water samples from the bay, and by denying these samples certain nutrients, Kevin was attempting to get an idea of what makes the phytoplankton work, grow and reproduce, or if these nutrients restrict the growth of the plankton. By using controlled experiments Kevin will determine whether phosphates, nitrates, silica or other important elements are contributing or limiting the algal growth.

Dave Eaken

Dave is a biological scientist who is also involved in the mapping and conservation of Florida Bay. He also makes the monthly journey up into the air to map the bay. Dave is also involved in collecting samples and field data for the Bay Watch group and for Carm Tomas' lab work.

Bill Richardson

Bill Richardson is a researcher with the Phytoplankton group. Bill filters the water samples through a fine mesh less than two microns wide. He filters the monthly samples in the South Florida Regional Laboratory to determine the number of relatively large dissolved solids suspended in the water column of the Bay. This measurement is called the Total Particulate Load. The solids cause the water to seem cloudy to the naked eye. Bill compares his results to form hypotheses of the cause of increasing turbidity of the Florida Bay. These hypotheses include widespread seagrass die-offs.

Earnest Truby, Ph.D.

Earnest Truby uses electron microscopy to identify species of phytoplankton from water samples of Florida Bay. Earnest is very versatile and is involved in most of the techniques except primary productivity.

Brian Bendis

Brian is doing research into the primary production of the Florida Bay ecosystem. By using the radioactive isotope of Carbon (Carbon 14) Brian is able to trace the carbon through the photosynthetic cycle. Carbon 14 is used by the Phytoplankton in place of the normal Carbon 12. By incubating the plankton out on the dock in extremely controlled conditions, and tracing the Carbon 14, Brian can determine the rate at which the cells are dividing and producing sugars in photosynthesis. Brian is especially interested in how these plankton are behaving at different light intensities.

Bill Sargent

Bill Sargent is working on the mapping of the turbidity problems in Florida Bay. Bill takes a monthly journey in a small plane up over the bay. Flying at about 1000 feet Bill decides what color the water is. There is a complex scale containing colors such as Haze green, Clear Green Tint and Heavy Yellow Green. This data is used to create GIS maps. Using these maps, Bill helps Bay Watch, the local group of citizen volunteers interested in saving Florida Bay, and Carm Thomas know where to focus their research. The maps are also released to the public and are usually published in the Miami Herald.

Courtney Westlake ("Crash")

Crash runs the software that manipulates the data retrieved from the aerial surveys. Crash uses a very powerful UNIX computer to move, color shape and run analysis on the maps.

Jim Poehlman

Jim is the GIS computer systems administrator.In other words he is the resident computer expert. Jim maintains thousands of dollars of very delicate and complicated equipment. It is his responsibility to make sure that the equipment can be transported in case of emergencies.

More to come....

Thank you to all the scientists and students who worked so hard, and so patiently with all of us Argonauts. We all appreciate how hard you worked to help make the JASON Project successful.

Back to January Expedition Journal

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Gene Carl Feldman (gene@seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov) (301) 286-9428
Todd Carlo Viola, JASON Foundation for Education (todd@jason.org)
Revised: 24 Jan 1996