18 September 2010

You know, I was going to write about something, but I really don't remember what right now so I will have to come back to this tomorrow. But there was definately something. And here is yet another picture of Fanore because the beach is just so photogenic. And below that a picture of barnacles. A different species, the other species that we have been looking for. Finally found some. And I found the first one! Aren't they pretty and blue?

11 September 2010

Irish autumn = rain

Now it is raining again in Ireland. Many people that I talk to are convinced that it rains more here in Galway than anywhere else in this country. I will take their word for it. It does make sampling slightly harder though. It generally begins OK but at some point before finishing it will begin to rain and I will end up completely saturated. And then as soon as I am back in the car it will stop and the sun will come out. In fact, this sort of thing is a regular occurrence. It is clear and sunny outside. It remains that way for some time. And then when I decide it will surely be alright to go out of the house, it will begin to bucket down as soon as I am out the door. And then when I get to wherever I am going it will stop. Right now the sun is shining outside of my window but it doesn't fool me. Nevertheless I still enjoy going to the beach and crazy weather makes for good photos. As does the crazy-high spring tide that we had. Walking down the beach was OK, but what would you know but the tide kept on rising, nearly cut us off.

Not only that but typing is proving difficult because there is something under some of my keys. Probably crumbs knowing me. But I must eat at my computer otherwise I will never get to eat because I must work all the time. And even then all my food generally tastes of salt because I spend a large portion of every day up to my elbows in salt-water. That includes today, a Saturday. Because I must feed and clean the barnacles every day. I can't wait for my holiday; in three weeks I will be on my way to sun in Dubai! Only right now it is above 40 degrees there, hopefully it will drop just a few in the next three weeks or I will melt. So at least I have the idea of a holiday to get me through days of looking after lousy barnacles.

Now, I have a funny story for you all. And this story has coming half-way across the world to me and now I am sending it back all the way down under for you guys to laugh at. And you are allowed to laugh, I am not being mean here. I heard this story straight from the source and she begun by saying 'do you want to hear a funny story'. So we are laughing with in the instance, not at.

So anyway,  my sister began talking to me on facebook just the other day and clearly she must have been bored to tell me this when she knows that I will tell everybody. I even told her that I would tell everybody and she said 'you better bloody not' but I am anyway of course. So she was going home, probably from work or town or the gym or something. And you know how there is the Waverly Park rugby field up St Andrew Street? So she takes the short cut home over the rugby field but as we all should know this rugby field tends to get really wet and boggy. And she got stuck in the mud!  She was only stuck there for about quarter of an hour though. But it was completely dark out. Luckily the field is right next to here house, so when the carers showed up she could give them a yell and get them to help her. Only they couldn't get her out! So they called the fire-department, and a fire engine shows up with lights flashing and sirens blaring, and four big firemen lift her chair out of the mud!

And that's all from me for today. I must feed barnacles and look at barnacle larvae, and go down to the aquarium (risking getting saturated with rain) to see the barnacles that I left there for them to take care of, and find out what they are feeding them with. Perhaps no more beaches for awhile, but that's alright. In the meantime I must get myself some waterproof pants and gumboots, to go with the great waterproof jacket I found on the beach at the beginning of the sampling season. Then sampling in the rain won't be so bad.

05 September 2010

Well it has been a very busy couple of weeks. Actually it's crazy to think that it has only been a couple of weeks, it has surely been months that I have been looking after these animals. By which I mean the new samples that I have found. So at the beginning of last week, I got a call from a fisherman about a log that has washed up on a beach down in county Clare, covered in goose barnacles.

So from this huge log we took only the smallest fraction, you can sort of see in this photo above that the corner has been chipped off. We went at it with a chisel and I took more than enough for my tank. And then I was soaked with the incoming tide anyway and the water was really warm so I went for a good swim.

Some of the work was actually a bit gross. It was still quite fresh and didn't smell at all. But when I had more barnacles than I knew what to do with I went along the log collecting the embryo masses, seeing as I am supposed to be trying to cultivate the bloody things. So this involved pulling the animals off of the log and opening up the shell, pulling the body out and taking the embryo masses. The stalks of the animals are quite stretchy, it was sort of like pulling gummy worms. I may not be able to eat those lollies without being grossed out now.

Looking at these photos, and my nice new, clean barnacles in the tank, you know what they make me think of? It will sound very silly. But they remind me of penguins. Something about their colouring. The white and the black and that particular shade of yellow standing out so strong. Other people do not seem to see the resemblence.

So now that I am sorted for animals there have only been a couple of trips to the beach for me, more for the fun of it and a break than anything else. One of my favourites is still Fanore, it makes for such nice pictures. And it goes from dark and cloudy to bright and shiny so fast. All of this below is Fanore.

Now below there is Spanish Point, on a sunny day where it looks like there is actually summer here in Ireland. Which by the way is now over, it has been autumn for 5 days and I am not impressed. The weather is still the same but it is so terrible that it is now going to just get worse and worse. Sure I've been to the beach loads but the weather has only been fair, not hot. On the upside, less than a month until I go to Dubai for 2 weeks of sunshine. Now I just have to try to save some money for holiday spending.

So that was last week, and now for this week, as in the week just been. It did not involve trips down to Clare but instead just one trip up Galway county. You see, I have been spending my entire days just looking after animals, trying to have enough food for them all, to keep the larvae alive (not going well), to keep their water clean. And I was feeling so tired of it that I decided I would go along sampling on Thursday just to have a break. Then Thursday morning I come into work and am told that the barnacles aren't looking so good. Then the next sentence: they are all dead. Now don't you think that implies that they are much worse than not looking so good? Anyway it seems the tank was not running overnight and there is such a crowd of animals in there that they sucked all the oxygen out of the water and all suffocated. So in order to lift my spirits I went sampling, went for an nice sea-shell collecting walk on the beach and a swim (at Dog's Bay, real nice place).

And luckily I had collected barnacles in excess and left them at Carna, the other part of the Martin Ryan Institute. So I stopped there and took some of them, and when I got back to the office it seems not all the animals were dead anyway. Some were alive. I am still not really sure how many, at least half though. It is really hard to tell with these animals, even if they don't move that doesn't mean that they are dead. You mostly have to wait until they begin to rot away, and then you know. So perhaps you can gather that the last couple of days at work have not been so great, what with barnacles dying and rotting away and stinking something awful? Stupid barnacles, I am sick of them. I will get some interesting pets for the office instead. A colleague downstairs is now the proud parent to a pile of baby scorpions, maybe I will take one of those. And when I am done with trying to rear these larvae I will keep all the tanks and put fish in them. Of course, considering the state of my pot-plant perhaps the care of these office pets should not be entrusted entirely to me. When it is not a dog or cat that clamours to be fed and looked after, it's sort of easy to forget.

And here is a wee bay near Carna, where the water is incredibly shallow and you can go out a couple of hundred metres or so and still only be at knee depth. On a nice day the water is warm and clear and the beach is dominated by the most colourful little periwinkle shells, that I have now collected many on. It is high time I did something about decorating this new apartment of mine so maybe somehow I will turn my problem of collecting everything into decoration.