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.

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