Teen Research Underwater Explorers (TRUE) is fortunate to have several marine science research institutions centrally located. Many of the science leadership volunteers are from these agencies, which include:
- University of South Florida, College of Marine Science
- Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
- Florida Department of Environmental Protection
- United States Geological Survey
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Tampa Bay Estuary Program
Because of this support, we are able to do amazing science projects in our own backyard, Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. We hold monthly ‘Dry Meetings’ that cover a range of science topics, from coral reefs to ichthyology to remote sensing. We also participate in a number of ‘Wet Meetings’ that include SCUBA diving locally.
Red Grouper Acoustic Project
The TRUE Dive Team is poised to start to ground-truth acoustic data and generate bathymetric maps for three locations that are of social, economic and/or environmental importance in the Gulf of Mexico. The three sites were selected based on the following criteria: 1) acoustic data are available; 2) the data have not been ground-truthed by field observations; and 3) the information gathered will support other research being conducted (e.g. NOPP/NSF-funded cetatcean research, USF-CMS Marine Sensory Biology Lab red grouper (RG) Epinephelus morio research, and Florida Sea Grant artificial reef habitat work). The sites are part of a long-term passive acoustic array of Digital Spectrogram (DSG) recorders placed by researchers in the USF-CMS Marine Sensory Biology Laboratory to study the diurnal, seasonal, and spatial patterns of fish sound production across the West Florida Shelf (WFS). These recorders are placed within areas that have been identified as potentially important red grouper spawning sites based on the detection of digging pits detected by mutibeam sonar; the production of unique sounds during courtship behavior detected by passive acoustic sonars; and/or local knowledge of commercial fishermen. In addition to ground-truthing data, abiotic measurements (temperature, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity) will be made on all project dives.
Tampa Bay Mitigation Rock Pile Surveys
The TRUE Dive Team has been monitoring mitigation rock piles in the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay for some time. The mitigation sites were put into place by Gulfstream Natural Gas System GNGS to provide hardbottom habitat to mitigate for the natural gas undersea pipeline to Florida. TRUE Explorers perform routine science dives in Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico to monitor mitigation sites placed by GNGS. The mitigation sites are man-made hardbottom communities designed to attract different flora and fauna (plants and animals) to them. The information collected includes; environmental data (e.g., air temperature, wave height and cloud cover), fish survey data (e.g, species and size) and macroinvertebrate survey data (e.g., genera and abundance).