Our adventure started out early today as the team, Terrence, Amy, Renee, Karl, Josh, John, Woody, Ricky, Marissa Williams an intern with the Florida Park Service from Rollins College, and Rima Franklin, Ph.D., a microbial ecologist prepared for an exciting day of sample collection from the no-mount cave at Wekiwa Spring.
The dive team consisted of Terrence, Renee, Karl, and Ricky. They collected samples from five stations within the no-mount cave, while Ricky relayed the collected material to the surface. The surface collection team then tested each stationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sample for sulfide, iron, alkalinity, temperature, pH, specific conductance, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, salinity, phosphate, and oxidation-reduction potential.
In addition to these on-site analyses, the dive team also collected water samples, which will be examined for microbial activity and how it relates to speleogenesis (cave formation). This dive marked the beginning of a long-term in situ biomass study that will investigate how fast groundwater bacteria colonize the inside of this cave system. Because some bacteria are capable of producing sulfuric acid and thus dissolving limestone, these bacteria may play an important role in cave development. We already know they are an important part of the food web in submerged cave ecosystems.
We managed to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms and made it to Scuba Quest just in time for gas fills for tomorrowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s portion of the expedition.