Day 4: Beach day!
Today began bright and early with breakfast with our host families.
We all had very different meals and enjoyed comparing them upon our arrival at IOI (Intercultural Outreach Initiative) at 8 am. We met in a small classroom and had lecture to go over the biology and geology of sandy beaches. Larissa shared many interesting facts with us, such as the fact that species richness on sandy beaches doesn’t seem to follow a pattern by beach zone.
We then headed out to the beach in Puerto Villamil to set transect lines and take core samples of the sand. Using homemade tools (halved water bottles and plastic sheets) we took samples from three zones of the beach at 6 different points.
We also did a quick species survey by sight that involved us spotting two juvenile octopuses, a lava heron (flawlessly IDed by Victoria), some marine iguanas feeding, and tons of juvenile bulls eye pufferfish.
Lunch broke up our field and lab work. A group of myself and five other students went to lunch with Larissa and Greg and had a great time observing the resident cat play with his food. We also got to hear about Larissa’s past fieldwork and heard from both her and Greg about the complicated inter-workings of the biology department at Bates.
We then returned to IOI for a quick siesta and to analyze our data.
We used two sieves to process our sand samples; microscopes were used to observe the meio and macro fauna they contained.
My group lost two of our three samples due to poor methodology and an accident involving Brett’s spatial awareness and my butterfingers in a small doorway, but everyone else did great! We saw a variety of fauna, including nematodes, arthropods, and some algal specimens.
We concluded that our data supports the idea that species richness of sandy beaches may, indeed, follow no pattern at all but may be patchy. Any downtime during our lab work was spent hanging out in groups in the cool evening air and laying in the hammocks that seem to be a staple in the community here in Puerto Villamil working on our journals.
We then departed for our respective host homes for dinner and to rest up for our adventures tomorrow. We also hope to head to the beach tonight to experience the intense volleyball games we’ve heard so much about. All in all, a great day for learning and science!