I went to bed last night at 4:00 am or so, talking details with Nick and generally not being tired until then, but classes dragged by this morning. PLUS there were no cups or mugs by the time I really wanted tea, so I was out of luck until 11 am or so. I had to keep pinching myself to stay awake, but luckily we were talking about more practical techniques today. Since we are done with our horribly tedious Mangrove, Coral, and Reef Fish ID exams, it is now time to apply our knowledge to the field, and use our afternoons to collect data instead of identify scientific names of organisms. A nice change if I do say so myself. We spent the morning learning Queen Conch morphology, habitat, feeding habits and growth patterns, and then learning how to collect population assessments in the field. This is the part of the program that really drew me to this particular location: we are literally the only researchers collecting data around this island. The data we collect goes straight to the DECR to make fisheries management policies and suggestions for catch limitations. Our Center Director sits on the Fishery Advisory board, and gets to report our findings each season to the DECR. So we did a dry run of collection techniques on the volleyball court to learn how to do it on land before going underwater. Our group consists of Chase, Emily, Brendan, Kirsten and myself, group 8, so we named ourselves Ochocinco. We are responsible for 3 collections per session, 4 times in the next week or so. Our group learned how to measure live conch length and shell lip, and how to assess the substrate that we were to lay a 30 meter transect down. Easy said, not so easy done. We came out for lunch, once again complaining at the lack of bagels, and I applied our recently learned knowledge of conch density dependent reproduction to the management of the bagel stock, which went something like this:
"If there are too many hotdog buns (male), and not enough bagels (female) to match the male population, then there will be a distinct lack of new bagels appearing in the fridge (mini bagels?!?). If we could somehow decrease the population of buns and manually stock the fridge with bagels, we could increase the sustained population of bagels consistently available in the fridge to a economically and ecologically stable population. This would mean that the rate of bagels appearing would equal or surpass the rate of bagels fished out by the students (fishermen)." Nothing like an inappropriate scientific pun to get us through the day. If this answers your questions, YES, we are all nerds at heart.
BUT REALLY. If we just bought less hotdog buns, a COMPLETELY unnecessary fridge item, we could buy more bagels and be fine!!! But I digress...
When we actually got into the water after lunch, it was much more difficult to lay down a straight 30 meter measuring tape underwater against the current than it sounds. Well, maybe its exactly as hard as it sounds, but it was difficult. Its really hard to swim straight looking behind you, into current, along the bottom with the tape blowing all around and your scientific team right behind you. But I made it work. I got 30 meters out and had just finished the transect, when not more than 10 feet in front of me were 3 spotted eagle rays! They were a gorgeous navy blue with bright white rings and spots on their wings, flying a few feet above the bottom. Spotted rays are more birdlike than the Southern stingrays that I have pictures of, and they sail farther off the bottom. I shot up to the surface sputtering for anyone around me to share the sight, but alas, all of Ochocinco was at the beginning of the transect, 30 meters behind with their heads in the water, collecting data. I couldn't believe that I had seen them so close! I've only seen spotted rays at HDL, where they are 20 feet below me and 20 feet in front of me, spooking when any snorkeler makes a movement to follow them. These 3 today though, they let me follow them quietly for a good distance until I needed to rejoin my group. Spectacular! We cranked out the rest of the transect sites with ease, making quick work with fun conversation and light spirits. I have a good feeling about this week with this group. :)
|(thanks google images...)|
I caught Izzy, my best friend studying in London, online just before dinner and chatted quickly, making a Skype date for after dinner. But when I returned immediately after dinner before any students took up the internet bandwidth, Izzy was not at her computer, and when she finally did return, I couldn't even load facebook chat to let her know my internet was down. After a frustrating 20 minutes of fiddling and waiting to call her (at 12 am London time...), I wandered out, angry, to find several students using Skype unauthorized. Well, not unauthorized, but we do have a sign-up board so that there aren't more than 2 users at a time on a chat host. Clearly for the above reasons. I took a long walk with Mike to blow off steam and we meandered around the island for 3 whole hours, not wanting to head back to the Center on such a beautiful night. We talked about our track teams, exes, funny stories and such, our usual conversation topics. When it was finally time to head back inside the gates, we rummaged for some bagels, quite unsuccessfully before finishing our homework for the night. I don't understand our shortage of bagels. It's a scarce commodity around here, when there are only 6 bagels in the fridge at one time, we all want one. If it was just constantly stocked with bagels, we would A) eat them less frequently and B) eat less of the other foods at dinner because we would have snacked all day. Somehow, nobody seems to realize that, and we always get our bagels rationed in a few dozens at a time throughout the day. Plus, it really is the only snack other than hotdog buns and bread to munch on during the day. No wonder we all hoard them. I've taken to hiding them in the freezer for later consumption like some sort of hermit that needs to stockpile foods. However, people will take it from the freezer if they see it, like rabid dogs fighting for a scrap of meat, thus fueling our bagel shortage and stigma. SFS, JUST BUY MORE BAGELS!!!!!!!
In other news, I got a 99.5 on my coral test, bringing my collective ID exam average to a 98.2%. Go me! :)
And yet, the crickets still chirp IN MY ROOM. Cool.