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Traveling to Cedar Key

Coastal Environmental Science majors spent the night in a historic lighthouse on Seahorse Key last Saturday, November 7th. Seven members of Dr. Ben Atkinson’s Marine Biology class traveled to Cedar Key – on Florida’s Gulf coast. They boarded UF’s R/V Discovery where Dr. Phil Allman’s Conservation Biology class at Florida Gulf Coast University joined them.

The cohort traveled to Seahorse Key, trawling for fish and invertebrates along the way. They even caught two tiny seahorses! After setting up their bunks in the lighthouse, students boarded a large skiff and traveled to another nearby island to search for diamond-backed terrapins, a beautiful salt marsh-dwelling turtle. The team hand-captured 14 terrapins during the expedition, which were later sexed, measured, weighed, and released at the point of capture. Other highlights included a night-walk on the beach featuring an amazing starscape, several ghost crabs and a great display of bioluminescence at the marsh’s edge.

Everyone shared a family-style spaghetti dinner and spirited conversation before sleeping at “turtle camp.” In the morning, students and faculty from Flagler College and Florida Gulf Coast University gathered for a final group photo on beach-strewn deadwood before departing for the mainland. Stay tuned for more adventures from the field with Dr. Atkinson and our coastal environmental science majors!

Leaving her home in Pennsylvania wasn’t easy. But for first-generation college student Caitlin Croley, diving headfirst into student activities made all the difference.
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