Saturday, August 1, 2009

A typical day on the island

Written at 11:30pm last night...

Time moves fast on the island. The new course has been here for 5 days now, so the course is more than 1/3 over. It was a good, very busy day. We started with a survey lecture about ocean vertebrates, then had time for group project work (students are designing their own experiments in groups). We ate lunch quickly and half of the class went on a seal-viewing boat trip to a nearby island. They saw Harbor Seals and Grey Seals displaying many interesting behaviors. The rest of us did a second round of transects. This involved gathering chemical, biological, and physical data about tide pools on the exposed side of the island for later comparison with similar data collection from the sheltered side. Organisms on the exposed side tend to be dwarfed, and there is less biodiversity. It is a wonderful venue for discussing environmental factors that affect intertidal life. It was pouring rail during this collection, but the intrepid young scientists were not deterred. There were very few complaints despite all of us being thoroughly soaked, and morale was high throughout!

At 4pm the now dry students came to the lab for their lab practical. They had to memorize the Latin names of 30 intertidal organisms as well as different adaptations that each organism had that helps it succeed in the rocky intertidal zone. They also had to key out a mystery algae using a dichotomous key. After this we had a delicious dinner of risotto, Arctic Char, and sauteed spinach. After dinner the class mad a sculpture out of the non-recyclable marine debris that they collected yesterday. They created a “monster” that they “slew” with a lobster buoy sword. I was very impressed. Following this creative time there was a lecture from the other TA about experiments in Cephalopod cognition. During this lecture there was one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. There were vibrant reds and oranges and some patches of blue right in the middle of it all. The blue patches I don’t understand, and they didn’t come out in the pictures that I snuck out of lecture (I heard it last course) to take. This all ended about 9pm, and the students had their first (and maybe only) real free night. They had nothing to study for, and no major projects to work on so they were free to hang out and watch movies or go to bed as they pleased. This was a relatively relaxing day, believe it or not. Tomorrow we clean up oil spills, echolocate, do more transects and seal viewing, talk about marine fisheries, and watch presentations from students in the Genetics of Marine Diversity class. It should be another good one.

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