Post by Collin Li, Research and Education Intern, University of Miami
Over the course of my studies I have found that scientists are obsessed with recording change over time. With the world constantly changing around us, it only makes sense to document changes, ask questions to help identify the cause behind our observations, and provide explanations for what we see. Here at Hurricane Island, we are no exception, although we are just beginning to establish our monitoring sites in order to observe change. It is my goal this summer to create a protocol so that the intertidal systems along the shores of Hurricane Island can be sampled and observed over time. I have selected two sites: one at Valley Cove and one at Two Bush Island (which connects to Hurricane Island at low tide). Each site was selected for its gentle slope and distance of the barnacle line to the water line. What makes these two locations differ is that Two Bush is an exposed coastal line whereas Valley Cove is protected. The differences between the zonation structure and organisms found at these two sites will be interesting to quantify. Another main difference between these sites is that Two Bush Island is often used for hands-on intertidal work with students whereas Valley Cove is relatively untouched. We are curious to see if there is a noticeable difference or impact on the intertidal organisms that see higher human traffic. I have established three permanent transects at each site, so that the project can be revisited each year. The high point of each transect was determined by finding the point on the intertidal 13.5 feet above Mean Low Water. Afterwards, each foot decrement was marked off dividing the transect into 13 levels. At each level, a 20cm x 20cm quadrat is sampled at a point most representative of the level. We plan to monitor these sites over the years, and think about the changes we observe within the context of global sea level rise, ocean warming, and ocean acidification. Best of all, students in our Marine Ecology ISLE programs will help us monitor these sites and contribute to the research that happens on Hurricane Island.