Wekiwa Springs

Thursday’s location was Wekiwa Springs, where our mission was two-fold. The first goal of our mission was to collect and analyze water samples from five different stations in the cave at Wekiwa as well as samples from the mouth of the cave. Our second goal was to collect bacterial mats from several pre-existing biomass sample sub sites at three stations in the cave. This was done so that Rima could return to the lab and analyze the bacteria as well as estimate a growth rate based on previous bacterial collection at the same sub sites. To do this, the dive team planned two dives to collect the necessary samples. They also added some new biomass sample sites at each of the three stations, including two new sub-sites at all three stations and one repair at station three. At Wekiwa I was analyzing samples with the surface team. I did the Nitrate test, which takes forever since each sample has to be shaken for three minutes then incubated for ten. The nitrates dropped the further into the cave the samples were taken. The water analyses performed were the same as yesterday’s, and yielded consistent results. That is, there was no sulfur or iron, and the nitrate, ammonia nd alkalinity where the same as other trips to Wekiwa. The water analysis process is moving faster now that the team has some experience with all of the different tests. The sampling also moved much faster because Ricky was at the mouth of the cave bringing samples up to us as the dive team filled them. At Sanlando, all the samples were brought up at once so it took much longer. After all the samples were taken the dive team surfaced and debriefed for their second dive while we finished with the samples. Once we were done with the samples, we were free to gorge ourselves on the food Rima brought and swat flies at our leisure. Eventually the dive team returned from their second dive with fresh bacterial mats which Rima seized for testing. Then all the gear was broken down and packed up and we were on our way home.