Tuesday, May 26, 2009

spa day

And by spa day I mean mud baths. And by mud baths I mean traipsing through thigh deep mud and muck in the salt water marshes.
A group of us went out to seine the salt marsh to find diamondback terrapins, a species of turtle that lives in brackish water, to mark and release. Instead we netted tens of thousands of young shrimp and other assorted juvenile fish like flounder and drum. While it wasn't quite productive the way we intended the six of us had a blast and were soaking wet up to our armpits. I've never seine netted before and walking 500 meters or so up creek, right through mud and oyster beds was a bizarre sort of adventure.

Over the weekend I also got to follow along during the beach combing biology class and the crabbing and casting class. Initially I thought the beach combing program would be mostly about identifying shells, which would have been great - I love combing the beach for shells, but Maureen went out into the surf with another seine net and pulled in all sorts of little fish, hermit crabs and sea anemones. We sorted through the contents of the net with the little kids and at the end took a bucket with some fish and crabs back to the classroom to stock one of the tanks. I think, though, that the highlight (or lowpoint depending on your perspective...) was when we watched one of the sea anemones snag one of the fish we also put in the bucket. I think most of us thought it was really cool to see the tail end of a fish sticking out of the anemone, but it may have been shocking for some of the kids.

The next morning more of us went out to the dock at the creek for crabbing and cast netting, something else new to me. All of the interns got really into cast netting, even though we collectively caught only five very small fish. I had a blast and was relatively good at tossing the net after a bit of practice. Only once did I have a mishap, I got the net caught on a button and got a front full of mud, and after that was fairly fearless. People asked if I had fallen in the creek by the end...

Yesterday all the interns had Turtle Central (the BHIC gift shop) training in the morning and we all took an afternoon ferry to the mainland. It was nice to get off the island and grocery shop and we all met at Provisions Co. for dinner before coming back home. Oddly enough however, the highlight for most of us was buying ice cream more cheaply, which required significant planning and packing in ice to make it back across the ferry and all the way to the freezer. I can't wait for Rocky Road ice cream tonight :)

All day today the turtlers spent in First Aid and CPR training with the fire chief on the island. It was a long day inside and when we finished up Maureen took the whole crew out to the beach to respond to a call about a stranded loggerhead. The poor thing had been dead for awhile and was extremely bloated. BHIC is cleared to do necropsies on dead turtles here on site, so we all watched the necropsy and then helped bury her on the beach. Maureen removed one of the front flippers to send off to the lab, something new I learned today, apparently they can age a turtle by looking at the humerus bone.

Still no turtle nests, actually we haven't even had another false crawl. But we are still patrolling and this time around with the UTV. Unfortunately however, with the Groins (which are essentially huge, long sand bags that stretch out into the ocean and are supposed to prevent some beach erosion) so exposed from the recent, extremely high tide and erosion we have to walk the western portion of the beach. So, Meredith and I walked west beach last night, but we had slide down these huge sand bags to lower ourselves to the next section of beach. As these got gradually taller we essentially ended up sliding down best we could before falling down into the sand and getting soaked by the waves. Needless to say when we finally finished with patrol we were pretty well soaked (at least on our front sides where we had fallen face first into the sand) and very sandy. Looks like high tide is going to be an adventure all season long.

It's dinner time here. And then I'm off to bed, I'm exhausted from a short night and long day, before 7 am patrol tomorrow morning. Ciao.

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