note to self: refractometers are not submersible.
so, meg and i returned from port st. joe last night. i got home around midnight, and i am absolutely exhausted today. we left for PSJ bright and early wednesday morning, and when we arrived at the park (where i'm doing my research) a little before 2 in the afternoon, it was crawling with people. and it was low tide. that meant wading way the hell out in the water to where the sea urchins live instead of snorkeling there. which kind of sucked. because it was kind of a long way. anyway, we finally found some sea urchins, and we did our counts pretty quickly. then it was time to take core samples of the two seagrasses there to count the smaller grazers that live in them (like amphipods [teeny crustaceans that look sort of like way tiny shrimp] and limpets). that was the most time consumng part of wednesday's work, since we had to sieve all the cores and pick out all the tiny critters. well, the few tiny critters we could find. the bad part of this whole thing was that we managed to drown the refractometer (the thing we use to measure the salinity of the water). who knew they weren't submersible? well, now we do. the good part was that we had already taken our salinity measurements when the refractometer met its unfortunate demise.
i also got some new critters for my aquarium while we were there wednesday. i found a little sea hare (a snail without a shell - they look really pretty when they swim), a little snail with a cool striped shell, and this long skinny fish that may or may not be a baby eel. they are now living with me.
after our day of field work, meg and i were starving, so we stopped for dinner at the first place we saw after leaving the park. it's this cute little restaurant right outside st. joseph peninsula state park called coneheads. the building is bright blue on the outside, and the walls inside are pepto bismol pink. they have lots of ice cream varieties, and the food was quite tasty, too. apparently, this place's hours of operation are very sporadic, though. right after meg and i ordered, another group of people came in, and the guy who took our orders told them that they could order drinks but that they weren't taking any more orders for food. that was only at 8 pm, local time (which was 7 pm to me and meg). one of the guys in that group then asked the waiter guy when they were open. apparently, that guy had tried to eat at coneheads several times, but each time, the restaurant was closed.
anyway, after dinner, meg and i made the nearly 2 hour drive to panama city. the house we were staying in is located there. we seriously considered sleeping in the suburban in the park to avoid that drive. but we didn't. the reason that we didn't stay somewhere closer to the park is that the house was free. it belongs to ken's brother (ken is one of my committee members), and he's letting us grad students use it this summer when we have to go to port st. joe or panama city for research. so i have to drive for two hours instead of 30 minutes, just to save a little $. oh well.
anyway, thursday it was up before the sun for us. we woke up at 5 am and headed back to the park for another loooong day in the field. this time we were building cages for my experiment and then getting them all set up. which meant that once again we had to wade way the hell out in the water, this time hauling lots of stuff. it was a very, very long day. we arrived at the park around 7:30 am and didn't leave until nearly 4:30 that afternoon. but we got the experiment set up successfully. then we had to collect some plants to bring back with us for meg's lab experiment. she also needed pinfish, but unfortunately they all died on us. *sniff* so now my legs are a mass of scratches from the edges of the mesh we used on the cages. my arms, too. i even managed to scratch my left armpit when i was putting the leftover mesh back into the suburban. i also have a weird sunburn on my back where meg missed putting sunscreen right along the edge of my swimsuit. but we used lots of sunscreen, and that's the only place i'm burned. i'm getting a pretty righteous tan, though. my once pasty-white legs aren't so pasty white now.
after that long day in the field and showers in the campground, meg and i decided to stop by coneheads again, this time for ice cream. but it was closed. and it wasn't even 6 pm local time. so, yeah, they have very sporadic hours of operation. so we ended up just stopping and buying ice cream bars at a gas station. then we stopped for dinner at a sonic on I-10 on the way home. and a few hours later, we were back at the sea lab and unloading things, then finally i was home and able to sleep. yay.
then today i had to own up to killing the refractometer. al's going to see what he can do to resuscitate it. ok. nap time.
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