Recently I had the chance to go to the Florida Everglades for a few days as a part of the science grant I am in our grant partners with a Marine Biologist at Florida International Univeraity named Dr. Mike Heithaus. He has a few video lessons for students, many of which I did with my students this year. My students also got to video chat with Dr. Mike several times. It was an awesome experience and introduced my land-locked students to ocean life. Since participating in this grant, my love for science has really grow.
I have always loved biology, but being a part of the grant has really brought out the science geek in me. It maks me do crazy things, like hold a 8ft python (all in the name of science). Below is the update and video about my trip. Our whole experience was filmed by Dr. Mike's film crew. It will air on PBS here in Kansas City and Florida. They are trying to get it on the discovery channel too. I'll let you know when as soon as I know.
I had an awesome two days learning all about the Everglades. Many people think that it is a swamp, but it's not. The water in the Everglades flows through and is not stagnant like it is in a swamp. The Everglades is home to many different species of animals. I enjoyed seeing many of Florida's native and non-native species up close.
On our first day there we took an airboat ride. On the airboat ride we saw some alligators, blue herons, and an adorable bird called a gulley chicken up close. The Everglades have many different habitats where the animals live. Our airboat ride took us out into the saw grass marshes. We were lucky enough to get to stand in the Everglades where we saw some of the smaller creatures that take refugee the saw grass. We had to be careful because the saw grass is really sharp!
Later that day we went to Shark Valley (unfortunately there are no sharks there) where we took a team ride to see some more of the Everglades, including the different types of tree hammocks. On our ride we saw lots of baby alligators and turtles.
The last day, we went kayaking around the mangrove trees and out to an area where we snorkels. We saw all kinds of fish, a few blue crabs, and lots of different types of sea grasses that we learned about in our videos from Dr. Mike. Then we got a a special treat. Another biologist, named Joe, came to talk to us and show us some of the different invasive species that are living in Florida.
Invasive species are ones that have been introduced to Florida in recent years because of hurricanes, or irresponsible pet owners releasing their pets into the wild. This is a problem because they compete for food with the native species, and they have no natural predictors in Florida, so they begin to take over.
The trip was a lot of fun, and I learned so much. Here is a link to a video with some of the pictures from the trip.