Life Without David

I know you’ve all been on the edge of your seats, in a cloud of suspense and disbelief, wondering, what happened to the TIDE blog?  Well have no fear, the Nor’easter has lifted from the marshes (both literally and figuratively) and it’s time to reflect again.

Since there has been a serious lack of TIDE blogging, I am going to heroically attempt to get you up to speed with our lives.

Before I get to the part about how David left us to become the next Crocodile Hunter in the Australian outback, let’s talk about week one.

August started with a bird survey!  O.K. now, everybody shout, hooray for birds!  I realize not everybody wants to get out of their seat and cheer for our feathered friends like I do, but I love birds and have been on three bird surveys along the Rowley River this August! Robert Buchsbaum (MA Audubon), Christina Kennedy and I have been able to set aside a couple of hours each week to survey along the Rowley’s expansive mudflats.  We have counted hundreds of birds, including semipalmated plovers and sandipipers, great and snowy egrets, least and common terns, willets, black-bellied plovers, and a dowitcher!

The plant peeps, set to work surveying the marsh; setting up their tripod and autolevel on the marsh platform.

Our dynamic REU team, also known as Mashley, made the trek down to Woods Hole with David to spend some quality time with the CHN machine to run their Spartina Patens litter.  They took some time to do a little exploring around the village.

Mister Samwise, in the wake of Austin’s departure, spent most of his time with light/dark bottles.

Kate and I diligently filled both tanks and collected marsh grasses for 15N NO3 analysis.  We braved the rain, midges, and sharp-blades of grass.

Week two!   Spring into action!

David made sure to fit in one last visit to American Barbeque with the crew on Friday before he relinquished his power for the next two weeks.  With tear-filled eyes, the crew presented him with a goodbye present of $20 to David’s new addiction: White Farms Ice Cream.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from assuming David’s role as project coordinator, spring tides wear you out!!!  We successfully seined over 200 mummichogs from the Rowley River in order to paint tag them for catch efficiencies.  These hearty fish managed to survive throughout the week in our laboratory aquarium, only be re-captured by our flume nets once again (a few crafty juveniles squirmed their way out).  Late evening/early morning flume netting was a success this month, with fish retained in every flume (including many silversides!).  Aside from falling in trap-door mosquito ditches (and getting soaked to the core), we were treated by a spectacular light display.  As the bioluminescence flashed brightly below us in the knee deep water, Perseids meteor shower drew our attention to the night sky.

As with any spring tide, the tanks do not stay satiated for long.  Along with help from our extremely hard working crew, we managed to complete four tank fills as well as a routine nutrient sampling.

Week three!  We love science!

Let me just take a moment to thank our Jill-of –all-trades, high school volunteer, Imogene.  She makes fieldwork look natural and is one impressive mosquito ditch hurdler.  None of us could have survived the summer without her!

While Meghan, Ashley, Ariella, Erik, and Sam prepared for their symposium presentations, Imogene and I spent Monday through Wednesday coring for benthic chlorophyll.  An archaeological discovery was made at both Clubhead and West Creeks during low tide: two glass bottles—one dating back to a time when Newburyport had a Coca-Cola factory (?)

On Wednesday, our fearless leader, Linda, arrived to take charge.  She immediately met with each of our presenters to review and edit their power point slides.  Later that evening, she prepared a spectacular meal with vegetables sourced solely from her garden.  Stuffed zucchini, cole slaw, tomato salad, and corn on the cob.  Delicious!

With a solid meal in our bellies, we set off for our Woods Hole adventure on Thursday morning.  We arrived just in time to set up a small picnic on the shores of Eel Pond and relax before the symposium began at 1 P.M.  TIDE brought a strong and much-needed ecological perspective to the talks.  Meghan and Ashley each presented their work on invertebrate detritivores and microbial processing on litter.  Ariella and Erik each discussed the recent discovery of creek bank cracking and potential mechanisms driving this geomorphological change.  Sam and Austin, who could not attend the symposium, contributed a poster on their algae work to a poster session that was taking place in conjunction with the symposium.  Everyone did a fantastic job and should feel very proud of their work!!!

In the time it took to post this, David has returned and has contracted empty-nest syndrome.  While he was away, we lost Meghan, Ashley, Sam, and Chris to that thing we like to call SCHOOL.  Thanks for all your hard work, creativity, and humor!  We’ll miss you!

Until next time,

Enjoy the sun and blue skies!



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