Top 5 Takeaways from the Indian River Symposium

The Indian River Lagoon is one of Florida’s most precious bodies of water. Florida Tech, as well as many other institutions, has focused on the conservation and preservation of this diverse body of water by utilizing research. The Indian River Lagoon Symposium (IRLS) is a two-day event in which scientists and community members can share research and learn about the Indian River Lagoon. This year’s focus was on lagoon biodiversity. The main points I took away from the IRLS were as follows:

1. Sea grasses are awesome.
One of the main themes for the IRLS was how sea grasses are super important, which a lot of people already know. The symposium showcased about 5 people doing the same experiment in different locations. Halodule wrightii is the main species of sea grass in the IRL which has faced significant declines in the past several years. Many scientists are trying to restore the sea grass beds for IRL health.

sea grass

 2. Florida Tech is awesome.
There was a very strong presence from Florida Tech at the event. The university presented research on a wide variety of topics including biofouling, mesozooplankton, copper pollution and fish biology. Between DMES and the biology department, we pretty much concluded that the IRL is in safe hands. DMES was a major contributor to presenters at the IRLS and I was the only presenter from Florida Tech’s Biological Sciences department to focus on fish biology in the Indian River Lagoon.

Florida Tech at Indian River Symposium
Florida Tech at Indian River Symposium

3. Manatee death information is probably not a government conspiracy.
Every once in awhile people like to blame governmental organizations for things that they have no control over. At the IRLS, people were, rightfully, concerned about the number of manatee deaths during one of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s presentations. One person took it even so far as to say that the government agency was hiding the death counts of manatees in the Indian River Lagoon until after a specific election was over. How do manatee death numbers equal government conspiracy? I have no idea, but apparently it’s a legitimate fear.

4. No one seems to collaborate on research.
Collaboration on research is something that I’m particularly passionate about. In my opinion, I believe that a group of scientists should work together to accomplish a common goal, rather than have several scientists conducting the same or similar experiments by themselves. Based on some of the presentations I had witnessed, I would say some major collaboration needs to occur among scientists working on sea grasses in the IRL.

Scientist Collaboration
Photo Credit: One Desk

5. Time limits are more of a suggestion than a rule.
Time doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you’re only allowed 3 minutes because you can totally spend 6-8 minutes talking and no one will reprimand you. Also, who cares if the audience has questions when one person can take up about 10 minutes of the question time to yell at a presenter about government conspiracies? Time doesn’t matter.

It must be a government conspiracy.

Photo credit: Principals Page
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