Journey through DeepEnd

The DeepEnd experience through the eyes of a grad student. This will be a collection of science updates-either dealing with my own progress or news from other team members-as well as summaries of outreach activities I get to experience!

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Trip to Sheridan Technical High School

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Hello DeepEnd readers!


I want to let you know about a special opportunity that I had recently!  On February 18 2016 I was a guest speaker at Sheridan Technical High School!!  Ms. Brittney Smith, who is a first year teacher down in Fort Lauderdale, invited me to speak to her AP Environmental Science class.  Their recent unit dealt with different biomes found throughout the planet, the variety of life found within, and how human activity has altered the environment. 

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The reason for my visit was to dive a little deeper into the oceanic environment and teach the kids about an area of the ocean that is little understood or explored.  The deep sea is considered to be the world’s largest biome, with 90% of the ocean classified as deep sea.  Contained within this massive volume are some truly unique ecosystems each with their own challenges, organisms, and adaptations.  We discussed general challenges that organisms face in the deep-sea such as: increased pressure, lack of down-welling light, low temperatures, and a food poor environment.  The kids learned some adaptations commonly seen in deep-sea critters: bioluminescence, transparency, red, brown, and black skin pigmentation, slower metabolism, delayed sexual maturity, longevity, brittle bones and flabby muscle tissues.  Much to the students delight I was able to bring some specimens along so they could see what these amazing critters look like and how different they are to the classical fish image that comes to their minds.

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I reintroduced the kids to the unique ecosystems that the deep contains, such as hydrothermal vents, methane seeps, brine pools, and whale falls.  We also learned about some of the critters associated with these unique oases. 

Human impact is a very consistent theme for AP Environmental Science.  We learned how and why deep-sea fisheries are unsustainable by looking at case studies of Orange Roughy and Chilean Sea Bass.  We learned the dangers of bottom trawling and how plastics can impact the oceans. 


As my time with each class came to a close I was able to tell them about all the cool stuff we are doing with DeepEnd and how they can follow us on social media and even ask us questions!  The students left the classroom seeing fish that most of the world does not know exist and with a deeper understanding and sense of wonderment of the world’s largest biome!!

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I am pursuing my Master’s degree at Nova Southeastern University where I am working with Dr. Tracey Sutton in the Oceanic Ecology Lab. I received my B.S. from The University of Tampa in Biology and Marine Science. I am interested in understanding the structure of marine ecosystems and how the biotic and abiotic processes shape these communities. I am particularly attracted to food web ecology and trophic linkages of an ecosystem. For the DEEPEND project I will be examining food web dynamics of key species from the bathypelagic realm.

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