Thursday, June 5, 2014

KI Day 11 - swimming for science

Damon and I attempting to construct a clothes line system for retrieving my plates

Emily and the seal - look to the center left.

Scared the beejezus out of us when we almost stepped on him!

View of KI from South Hill

Successful anchorage!

Lots of urchins down there!
Yesterday I managed to get my first plate out in the water, in a giant tide pool at the extreme south end of the island. In addition to being 10-15 feet deep, it has kelp-covered shear walls which is extremely cool. To set the plate in the pool, I had to snorkel down to loop a line around a large iron beam at the bottom of the pool so the plate won’t go floating away. Despite the thick wetsuit, the water was most definitely cold! We have to place the plate in the middle of the pool so it won’t chafe on the rock sides and potentially cut the line. To avoid having to swim out to the plate every time, we set up a cool laundry line set up where I just have to pull on one end of the line to pull the plate up to me. This is the first of five plates I plan on deploying, hopefully in environments where I can just wade out to the anchor site and not have to swim for!

That night a bunch of us decided to camp out on South Hill, before a large block of rainy and foggy days hit us. We camped out on the summit and looked down to Cutler, Maine as the sun set. We used cover tarps over our bags to prevent fog from soaking our bags, but also to prevent the herring gulls from pooping all over us as we slept. One of the more surreal moments in the night was waking up as a huge cloud front swept over from behind us and the gremlin calls of the Storm Petrels cackled all around us, some within 10 feet of our bags. Waking up to a misty fog was a surefire morning alarm for us to make tracks to breakfast a mile away.

This morning I helped Haley and Sarah, two students from Kenyon, grub for Petrels in the area of the Island known as The Shire. Here the Petrels make their burrows under mossy hummocks, and this is where they stumble to at night after flying in from the ocean. Hayley and Sarah are contributing data to a long-term behavior study (going back, I believe, for 40 years or more) by taking measurements of adults and chicks they find in burrows, as well as doing some new manipulative studies such as heating empty burrows to find out if that is inductive for increased nesting. To get these measurements, one “grubs” for the birds, which involves sticking one’s arm up to the elbow into the small holes in the ground and feeling around for a nip of an adult or the small bodies of the chicks. They are then removed and duly weighed. Dirty but rewarding work!

It’s raining once again after several days of gorgeous weather, so it looks like the next few days will be a little miserable. Hopefully I can get the rest of my plates out in the next few days so I can collect data!

Pray for fog.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome pics. Now we just need to have some photos underwater!