Science On The River

April 22, 2017

In April 12, 2017, the Environmental Science Capstone class at FSU collaborated with Dan Tonsmeire and the Apalachicola Riverkeepers organization to collect and analyze water samples from the river. It is critical that continuous data be collected throughout the system to demonstrate the importance of adequate flow to the river and its floodplains. On this specific day, our class was lucky enough to get to explore one of the numerous sloughs, albeit for shorter duration and less often due to reduced water flows, connected to the Apalachicola River. Sloughs are characteristic of the dynamic nature of meandering river systems and as such are found on the mid- and lower- Apalachicola River. The slough that we visited was North of Bristol, FL and on the western portion of the main channel. We took a boat ~4 miles upriver to find the inlet of one of these natural features. Approaching the slough at its mouth, it spans a mere 84 feet across. Trees, such as the tupelo and cypress, have evolved to inhabit the regularly flooded banks and create a lush canopy such that the sloughs are hardly visible from a bird’s eye view. The banks are steep and muddy and give way to a wonderfully diverse forest habitat. It is thought that this basin and its forests, steep-heads, springs, and rivers, hosts some of the highest species diversity of any river system in North America. With its highly turbid waters and a TDS level of 72.1 mg/L (on the day we visited), this river supports a large variety of sport fish including Black Bass which the FBCC (Florida Bass Conservation Center) is currently making efforts to restore. It speaks volumes that so many different organizations are willing to contribute time and effort to preserve this basin for future generations. I am proud to be part of an effort to help restore this system to its natural, prolific state.

 

 

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