Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Day in, Day out.

Can you count them all?
I have found myself a new office! Comfy couches and a beach view, with plugs and wifi and most importantly not too many people around! However, the wifi can also a little too easily distract me from the reason I needed a quiet place... This place offers me the perfect place for analysing my videos. Each day we do trials, we add 6 more videos for me to analyse for my dissertation. Each video is approximately four and a half minutes long, and include three predator simulations, and each of these videos take me about 15-20 minutes to analyse. The analysis consists of taking a still image of the beginning of the video where the long spines are easy to see and counting each one of them. Some of the urchins are easy with only 30ish long spines, but others go up to the fifties... This is the easy part of the analysis, because the next thing I do is slow down the video and skip to a point which is marked to tell me we’re about to put the shadow on the tank. Usually, the urchins react to the shadow by wiggling their long spines in an attempt to deter the alleged predator. The reaction is more of a twitch really, and it is during that twitch that I need to count how many of the long spines I can see moving. Sounds easy, right? To a certain extent it is very simple, but when the urchins decide to wiggle one spine 90 degrees back and forth it is incredibly hard to keep track which ones I’ve already counted – even with slow down to only 0.125 seconds of video per each second spent watching! I have used pieces of paper, notebooks, anything with a straight edge really, to “divide” the urchins so that I’ll only count a little part at a time. And still I am not sure I am getting the correct count. If only there was a software to record the movements that would tell me how many moved significantly haha! Even if at the moment I am a little behind on the analysis, I am confident that I will get through them all by week 5. That is, at least the ones that are done by then!

Since my last post a lot has happened and yet I feel like it all has become routine. Every day we carry water, every day the urchins go back to the reef and new ones are brought back, and every day we eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. And every day we do more trials. We have had an interesting last week with what must be “that time of the month” for the urchins causing them to spawn in the trial tanks. The first event, when 5/6 urchins spawned has been dubbed “The Urchin Orgie”, and they haven’t really shown signs of slowing down... At times they spawn on the way up to the boat, sometimes as soon as we put them into the trial tanks, and at times they wait until we hit record on the GoPro. The urchin trials have gone from stressing them out to a bunch of happy endings...

Some healthy board banter. Lionfish for dinner! 

I’ve gone to the mangroves a few more times as well, and managed a real life timber fall off the roots. I was walking over the roots at approximately one meter off the ground, though when I say walking I mean crawling, I really don’t fancy a broken leg... I was reaching for a root on my right with my hand, and I closed my grip only to find the root I was aiming for was still a good 10 cm away from my now closed fist. My head turned to the left, the direction I was now quite actively falling to, and I landed wrist and chest first on top a root only 50 cm off the ground... Luckily, my bones are strong (thank you Finnish milk!) and I didn’t break my wrist, and I only acquired two bruises; one on the wrist and one on the breast... literally! After a few minutes of being a little disoriented lying on my back on some comfy mangrove roots with my legs up in the air, trying to fend off the dizziness that followed the fall (no worries, I didn’t hit my head), I insisted we finish the transect we were there to do. I felt fine and was back in the Groovy Mangroovie mood in no time! Until we got back to the beach, only to wait for our taxi home for an extra two hours... But there’s no need to go into detail about how our lunch entertainment entailed listening to two drunk locals for an hour and a half, while our only phone was dead and we had no means of trying to contact base to find out where our taxi might possibly be. We got home in the end!
Millie and Andrew, enjoying a bitta pool time :) 

It is now only two and a half weeks until I go home (time has passed so fast!!) and we are only four days from having the original amount of trials done! Four working days, that is ;) Usually the week here ends on a Monday with Tuesday being a day off, dedicated to laundry, going to town for snack shopping, and all round lounging around. There is often a Disney film running on the TV via someones’s laptop, or a marathon of The Big Bang Theory. As much as I have tried to do my videos on Tuesdays, I frequently find myself giggling to Sheldon Cooper’s social awkwardness while the urchin on my screen desperately tries to swat away an invisible enemy.

I’m going to get onto the Lionfish Team’s secret files for my next post, to reveal all their secrets! So stay tuned! I also need to write up my methods which I am quite actively avoiding heeeheee... And because I really don't have any exciting pictures, I added a picture of Millie and Andrew enjoying some (much deserved?) pool time before lunch :) 

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