|Posted by allisonfp on July 13, 2012 at 3:30 AM|
Well, I'm back in the city and back online with a new laptop! Thanks again to my funding sources for covering my research costs, so that I still have my own money for a replacement. I will be restoring most of what was lost using my external hard drive when I get back to LA, but I did lose some field and sample photos from Tulamben and the Gilis that I can never get back.
The trip to Raja Ampat ended on a high note for me, with a very lucky snorkel on Saturday morning. I went out to the house reef with the main goal of collecting Sara's snails off of Porites cylindrica, but of course kept looking for my nudibranchs as well, because up to that point I had only found 1 individual on any coral other than Porites lobata. Without other coral hosts, I can hardly look at the effect of host on divergence! But I lucked out right away, with two nudibranchs on one piece of cylindrica. Then I spent some time getting snails, which was very satisfying because taking each one is sort of like removing a leech from the coral. At one point I was holding onto a piece of coral to pull myself down to get a snail, and a small piece broke off- actually it's really hard to collect without that happening. But it's ok because we take small coral samples anyway, and I could just use that piece for the sample. So I picked it up, and much to my surprise, one of my nudibranchs was on it! Crazy. I had a good laugh through my snorkel at that. So I quadrupled my sample size for that host in one short morning. But that's not all! A few minutes later, I saw a cuttlefish, and swam up to it to take a video- turned out to be two cuttlefish. I watched them for a while but suddenly they sped off, and I stopped recording and turned away... to see a huge blackip reef shark swimming after them! I got a short video of the shark, too, but was kicking myself for not getting the whole drama in one video.
Our last night was fun, staying up late chatting with our new friends, Ross the British dive master/guest manager at the resort and Gabriel the American nomad/carpenter. We had such a fun, small group, and it reminded me of living at a real field station. I started to get nostalgic for the days I spent at Hubbard Brook in New Hampshire and Hastings Reserve in California. Typical field stations, they are rural and isolated from social opportunities, so I became close with the other young scientists I lived with. A lot of people think that when our lab goes to Bali, we are at a field station, but they are mistaken. The Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center (IBRC) is more of a school laboratory, where people come to work and learn during the day, but go home to their separate lives in the evening. In the field we do live and work together in isolated places, but we never spend more than one week at a given location, so you don't settle into a lifestyle. At Kri Eco, it was easy to develop a routine because the resort already operates on a set meal and dive schedule. Sitting aroud that same table with the same people 3 times per day, and going out in the field in between, was the closest I have come to living at a field station since I was at Hastings in 2007. I miss that lifestyle!
Life is very different in Denpasar. Sure, most of us American students all live at the same place- Rama Villa. But we don't do any field work from there, unless we are able to collect specimens from the local reef flat, which I plan to find out this weekend. For the most part, our life is the same as it is in Los Angeles, only without the rest of our friends and our favorite foods. We go to lab in the morning, we work on our computers or do lab work all day, and we go home in the evening. We go out for dinner and drinks a few times a week, and wander around the beach and local tourist shops. Sometimes we go surfing on the weekend. I've even started running again, which I had pretty much given up after my half marathon in April. See, just like a typical grad student in LA! However, I don't want to downplay our experience too much. There are some really cool cultural things to do in Bali, like visiting temples and going to the arts festival or the kite festival. We have a whole other set of friends here from the IBRC, whom I love hanging out with. So don't get me wrong, being in Bali is great, but I just thought I would tell it like it is and dispell the rumors!
On that note, I think I'll move on to posting photos and videos (finally). Thanks for reading! Don't forget, comments are welcome.