Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Through the Lurking Grass...

In today's Adventures Through the Lurking Grass, your heroine found herself analyzing more hours of seagrass video...and again, wishing she was in the field today...snorkeling, identifying seagrass species, and counting percent cover in quadrats...

The good news is that your noble heroine also completed two transects of seagrass footage, so she accomplished her quest! (Well, for this week at least...)

Through the Lurking Grass...

In this week's Adventures "Through the Lurking Grass"...!

This summer my research and field work involve acoustically mapping seagrass beds, ground-truthing the acoustic data by snorkeling and measuring the seagrass found in 1 square meter quadrats, identifying seagrass samples to verify species identification, pressing and preserving seagrass for our own little herbarium, and analyzing seagrass video.

"Through the Lurking Grass" posts will follow your heroine as she reflects on her seagrass adventures in coastal North Carolina...

This past week one piece of our equipment had to be sent back to the manufacturer for repairs. We had grand plans of field work for last week and part of this week, but that is all on hold until we hear back from the manufacturer and have our equipment back. So, I'm focusing on seagrass video analysis this week.

For our collaborators at NOAA, we identify the presence or absence of seagrass species in the video at the 1st frame of every 3rd second in the video. We have also started adding an estimate of the percent cover at that frame, and I'm "quartering" my television screen (in my mind) in order to get an estimate of 25, 50, 75, or 100% cover. That estimate really just gives us a very general idea of how much seagrass is in the viewing area of the video camera during that 1st frame of the second...which we can use to cross-reference with our acoustic data in order to further ground-truth our acoustic results. All this is important, because it is necessary to confirm and cross-check data from one method with another.

In this week's Adventures "Through the Lurking Grass," your heroine is spending her week analyzing the video transects...and today she wished to be in the water, snorkeling, seeing the images on the television screen through her own eyes...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

News from Providence...

We're having a great time at the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists/American Elasmobranch Society meeting so far. But first, here's the news from Providence...all social and very little science.

Tuesday, July 6 we explored the city a bit...found College Hill...drank some amazing iced teas... I met up with some of my friends from past meetings, the previously-mentioned GIANTS in the shark world. That was wonderful, because it's really been years since I've seen them.

We realized that the majority of the conference events on Wednesday were actually business meetings for the various organizations...so we decided to tag along with Dr. Rulifson and Jen in order to see some of the countryside. We went to Newport RI for lunch and a stroll...and then on to Kingston for a meeting with research partners... Newport is a beautiful town, very old, with well-restored buildings, quaint shops, waterside restaurants, and amazing seafood. We met up with Chuck for the meeting and then had drinks and dinner at the Mews Pub. What a great place...great food, excellent beer selection, fantastic atmosphere. (We will be back there for the World Cup Championship match, for sure.) I had the most amazing lobsta mac & cheese! My friend Sean would love it. I do not have a pic of the mac & cheese, but I did however have my photo taken with the delicious clam chowder I had at The Black Pearl in Newport. I've been conducting a survey of clam chowders throughout the East Coast. (So far, the chowders in Maine are winning...) The Black Pearl tavern is such a perfect slice of a 19th century port town that I'm surprised they didn't film Persuasion there.

We arrived back in Providence in the evening, met up with other graduate student friends, and went out for drinks. I must explain, before I get further into blogging through this conference, that Shark People Drink. They know how to have a good time. We went to Trinity Pub, which is another great little spot in Providence. Ran into other friends, made new friends, and thoroughly enjoyed the coffee stout.

I will take this moment to explain that I am extraordinarily good at networking. I own it. Within 5 minutes of being at Trinity, I met another awesome graduate student doing cownose ray work, and we had a great little discussion about the controversy over population size. I met his advisor, who was on my "Must Meet" list, followed by so many other really terrific graduate students and post-docs. After that night, I already had so much good information and perspective about my project that even if I don't learn anything else this meeting, it was already a success! I'm owning the quote that my good friend DNLee passed on to me: "I'm *&^#* Brilliant!"

Stay tuned...more to follow!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

American Elasmobranch Society!

I'm currently at the American Elasmobranch Society meeting in Providence, Rhode Island. Elasmobranch includes sharks, skates, and rays, but for the sake of these blog entrees, I'll use shark to mean all elasmobranchs. It makes life easier. This is a meeting where shark people get together and discuss their research! The AES meeting is also held in conjunction with the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, so it gets to be a pretty big conference. 1500 attendees are expected. I'll be here through July 13th, and oral presentations run from July 8-12. It feels like there are more and more shark talks every year...it's terrific!

Of course, keep in mind that the World Cup finals are also during this time period, so I'll definitely be taking some breaks to watch the finals matches... Go Netherlands!

The first AES meeting I ever attended was in 2002 in Kansas City. I knew nothing about shark research, my undergrad degree was in History & Theatre, but I knew I wanted a change in fields. I showed up at the conference as a general attendee, sat through some fish morphology and taxonomy talks, and made my way to the shark talks... I met a couple graduate students and then a Mote Marine Lab researcher, who took me and another pre-graduate student under his wing... He introduced us to other scientists, professors, and graduate students. He's now a professor at a university in Florida with his own lab. He's a fantastic mentor...and hooked me on shark reproduction with a talk on "Why (clasper) Size Does Matter."

I met so many great people at the first meeting who continued to support and mentor me, and met up with them 5 years later in St. Louis. Now it's been 3 more years, and I get to catch up with all the GIANTS in the shark world, whom I am honoured to call my friends. How wonderful and wild life is...

I've been hanging out in the lobby, stalking the arrival of my shark guys, who are slowly showing up... So I'm going to go network and catch up! Stay tuned...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Shark Finning Film

My goodness, it's good to be back blogging again! I apologize for such an extended absence. I've been attempting to get settled into graduate school. My move went well, and I'm doing great in Eastern North Carolina...North Carolina is the place to be if you're a science blogger! More about graduate school and my research soon.

For now, I want to share a link to an Anti-Shark Finning movie that was sent to me by my friend Peggy of Gateway Hammerheads (a SCUBA club in St. Louis). This film was partially funded by the Shark Foundation. It's sobering, sickening, horrifying, and nauseating. Most of you have probably seen similar footage. The more times and different ways we can illuminate the realities of shark finning, the faster we'll rid of the planet of this scurge.

We can not continue to remove sharks from the ecosystem at the rate we are...it is entirely unsustainable and the ramifications of removing these apex predators will quickly trickle down the food web. If this sort of thing was happening to other apex predators around the world (lions, leopards, tigers, wolves, bears), the outcry would be tremendous!


Feel free to share this link. Pass the word!