Sun, Fun, and Science… (Science on the St. Johns)

Sun, Fun, and Science… (Science on the St. Johns)


(cheery upbeat music) – [Narrator] At Jacksonville
University’s Marine Science Research Institute, the annual
science on the St. Johns, bring rods and reels to kids, games, fun and of course, science. Hands on science activities, demonstrations of equipment, and scientific instruments, explanations of research projects, and issues facing our
river were all at hand. Join me as I tour some of
the exhibits and science on display at Science on the St. Johns. – This is our water quality instrument that we use when we are taking
water quality on the boats. We take water quality at
every net that we sample and what we take is we do the salinity, the conductivity, the temperature of the water and the pH of the water. – If we were out in the open ocean, we’d do this off the back of a boat with a much bigger net. But today we just wanna
get some phytoplankton to look at under the microscope and show people what’s going on in the St. Johns River today. – [Narrator] This mesh
plankton net filters the water, concentrating the plankton
and small particles into the bottle. This young scientist gets an up close look under the microscope. (inspirational music) – Here we have a sample
from the Ortega River and what we did was take a liter of water and filter it and we
found 39 microplastics on this small sample. – [Narrator] Using
microscopes, visitors were able to view these tiny microfiber
threads from the Ortega River as well as learn how they ended up in the river in the first place. – You can find microfibers in our clothing such as fleece jackets, nylons, polyesters, and so when you’re
doing a load of laundry, these microfibers actually
get released into the water and then they go into our
water treatment plants which don’t have the
abilities to filter them out. So these microfibers actually
get into our waterways such as our rivers and lakes
and eventually into our oceans. – I’m looking at
identifying Vibrio bacteria in oyster tissue and water samples from Sisters Creek which is part of the old Duval County shellfish harvesting area. Using our mass spectrometer, we’re able to identify our
different species of Vibrio looking at the similarities
and differences. – [Narrator] Visitors
were able to get up close to some of these Vibrio bacteria
growing in Petri dishes. – This is Vibrio parahaemolyticus. And it can cause
gastrointestinal infections. You can get diarrhea,
vomiting, fevers from this. Dehydration, severe dehydration from it. – Basically this project is
if we were to go out today and go take an oyster and eat it raw, what are the chances
that we could potentially get infected with a harmful bacteria? – [Narrator] And down the
hall in the Millar Wilson Lab, – You may be wondering how we get the sediment from the bottom of the river. And some of the places that we
sample is over 20 feet deep. What we use is a petite ponar which is a device that uses, that grabs onto the
sample once it’s deployed. Lower it gently into the water, allow it to hit the top of the sediment where it will deploy. – [Narrator] Sediments obtained
using this powerful jaw are then taken back to the lab and analyzed for mercury pollution. Algal blooms were also on display. You could view an algal
bloom under the microscope. As well as learn about
local advocacy efforts. – We’re currently working
on a project called the Citizen’s Science Project. In which we encourage people to be the eyes and the ears of the river to keep a lookout for algae blooms. – [Narrator] Just down the hall in JU’s harmful algal bloom lab, – I’m studying microcystins
which are liver toxins that are formed by algal blooms. We shoot it with a laser and
it’s in a crystal structure. The crystal structure explodes and the microcystin flies
through a vacuum chamber and hits a plate that tells us that is is 995 Dalton of mass. That represents this microcystin. So with that, I’m able to identify the different microcystins
we have in the water to understand how toxic they are. – [Narrator] And around the corner, isotopes in Jacksonville
water are being analyzed. – The beautiful thing about water and isotopes in water is that
it fingerprints the water. We tell something about
the physical system that water came from. So rainfall has a very
specific fingerprint. Ground water has a very
specific fingerprint. Seawater has a very specific fingerprint. Here’s the output from the instrument. These red lines here
are actually the isotope values of the particular samples. These values are very consistent with rainfall in this area. So we’re seeing in our DI water
even here at the laboratory is it mimics the rainfall
falling on Jacksonville. – The Science on the St. Johns event was developed to allow us to expose the general public to what
we’re doing here at the MSRI. And to help them understand
some of the issues and problems of the St. Johns River. When I was walking around
looking at the people and the children and seeing that smiles and the interaction and the questions and the sense of awe, that sense of wonder that a lot of people have when they start looking at what’s going on. Things they didn’t
understand, didn’t know about, had a chance to talk to
people about, ask about. It really was exciting. (upbeat music)

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