Dive Into the Action: Volunteer!
ASSEMBLING GEAR FOR DEPLOYMENT IN THE FIELD – volunteers will assist with the construction of field sampling equipment, including growth cages, current profilers, and spat traps, which are used to determine where, when, and how many baby oysters settle on the substrate. Additionally, volunteers may help with building anchoring devices to safely secure water quality monitoring sondes at specific locations within Apalachicola Bay. If you’re looking to tinker, this is the perfect opportunity to do some hands-on assembly using common shop tools! We ask that volunteers commit to 4-hour time blocks. Weekdays only.
SPAT TRAP ASSEMBLY & PROCESSING - volunteers will help prepare spat traps for field deployment, and then process spat trap samples after they are retrieved. This is a great opportunity for somebody who is interested in science and doesn’t mind getting a little muddy. After all, getting into the nitty-gritty is vital to understanding differences in oyster populations throughout the Apalachicola Bay system. Scheduling is determined by our seasonal sampling schedule and the weather. We ask that volunteers commit to 2 to 4-hour time blocks. Weekdays only.
ASSISTING IN THE HATCHERY - Volunteers will assist hatchery staff in the husbandry and care of all shellfish, mainly oysters and scallops, raised in the research and restoration hatchery. Volunteers will learn how to maintain critical life support systems, culture live microalgae for feed, and monitor the health and water quality of animals. All animals from the hatchery facilitate research into the restoration and conservation of local Florida populations. This opportunity is perfect for someone who doesn’t mind getting their clothes a little wet, is looking for hands-on experience in aquaculture or restoration and loves to work directly with animals. Weekday and weekend opportunities are available, but weekend spots are limited.
FIELD WORK - Volunteers will help onboard FSU and local vessels to efficiently collect data. During subtidal field days, samples of oysters from sites around the bay are brought up from the seafloor with tongs, measured, and recorded. Spat traps, growth cages and our artificial reef monitoring are all examples of our subtidal research. While out in the field, we’ll deploy a YSI handheld water quality probe to gather more information about the conditions of the water those oysters are occupying. Crew members will relay numbers to a scribe who inputs them into data sheets. These are used later to generate more conclusive statistics on the overall health of the Apalachicola Bay System. When research picks up in April and May, volunteers will have additional opportunities to help us monitor a variety of sites. Oyster collection for intertidal zones requires gathering 5-7 live oysters per site. Subsequent processing involves cleaning, weighing, and more standard measurements like length, width, and height. If you’re ready to rise before the sun and hit the water with us, come on board for a day in the Bay! Weekdays only.
LAYER CAKE and REEF BALL RETRIEVAL & PHOTOGRAMMETRY: Volunteers will utilize photography equipment to capture the full scope of growth on our artificial habitats known as layer cakes and reef balls. These structures are comprised of concrete and calcium carbonate – the main component in oyster shells. Their vertical design is meant to maximize the potential for spat recruitment. When they are retrieved, a team of divers will work in tandem with a surface support team. Layer cakes and reef balls can be rather heavy, so it’s up to the deckhands to help haul them aboard. Once they’ve gotten out of the water, the sampling process begins! To observe the reef development of a layer cake or reef ball, volunteers will take a series of photos that serve as a visual record and aid in the collection of vital water quality data. They must be taken thoroughly– several angles are required for completing the close-range photogrammetry process! With the AGISOFT program, this photographic data will be extracted and interpreted into a 3D model. If you have an enthusiasm for imagery, give us a click (or call)! Weekdays only.