Dear Diary, Jackpot! (Day 2 of Field Work)

Those of you that know me well know that I am anything but a morning person.  Basically, field work, SCUBA diving, and ultimate frisbee are the few things that can motivate me to get up before the sun rises.  When I was in California collecting Patiria miniata samples, I spent way too many late nights and early mornings in the intertidal.  Thankfully, I have a lot more time here, so I don’t need to go out at night.  It’s safer and a lot less stressful that way.

Wednesday’s 7am low tide, though, was total fair game. Luckily, one of my new labmates, Hong, needed to go out to take some pH samples that morning as well, so I tagged along with her.  It’s always great to have help in the field, even if it’s just someone there who could call for help if you needed it.  It’s even better to have company when you have to go out into the dark and cold.  (And I was cold! —>)

We set out for Hong’s site first.  She needed to do her sampling before the sunrise.  Who comes up with projects like those?Hong was measuring the pH and salinity of some of the tide pools in a place called Little Bay.  She then also takes water samples. Thankfully, the process is fairly simple and goes fast when you have someone there to act as a scribe (me).  Although, my handwriting is impossible to read on a good day, so she might be regretting that in the future.  We finished up and then quickly drove over to my potential site which was a little further north in Long Bay.  I did manage to snap a couple of sunrise photos before we left.

We had a bit of a hike out to the head of Long Bay, and I was pleased with the habitat I saw as we were walking and as the sun was rising.  I had a good feeling that I would finally secure my first samples of the project.  We walked about 2-3 kilometers out to the point and came upon a patch of prime calcar real estate. Pictured below is a perfect example of calcar habitat.  It’s a wave exposed wide rock bench that is filled with tide pools, small trenches, and a decent cover of algae.  From there, you just need to look in the pools or trenches right along the edge of where the algae is. To the right is a picture of the tide pool that I decided to sample.  This rock bench was also large enough that I could stratify my sampling across two different tidal heights.  A secondary question of my project is whether populations are selected for different tidal heights. This site had two clear distinctions in tidal heights, so I collected to separate population samples from this site.

All in all, I came away with one hundred samples which is by far my all-time sea star tissue collection record for one tide.  It’s a testament to not only how nice it is to have someone there to help you in the field, but also to how amazingly dense calcar populations can be in the intertidal.  A great way to start off my collections!


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