03 October 2011

More barnacles, the bane of my life ...

In the last week Galway was surprisingly warm, trying to fool us into thinking that it is not such a bad place to be at this time of year. Really strange stuff has been happening over this side of the world in terms of weather actually, with record-breaking high temperatures for September and October. Apparently there was something about earthquakes somewhere and a potential tsunami too, so between that and the spring tide the sea level here has been really high. Here in Galway the town is built right on the bay, with a main road and wide pavement right alongside the beach (in other words, a pile of rocks and smelly seaweed). Last week however the beach was barely visible; people were fishing from the sidewalk and actually catching fish. I went out to a small beach along Galway Bay looking for fresh samples and for once luck was on my side and I actually found some!

The weather was nice and the beach was covered in seaweed. Luckily on this occasion I managed to stay on my feet and not fall in any. I was just walking the beach, enjoying the chance to be out of doors on a relatively nice day and not expecting to find anything at all, seeing as it is pretty unlikely that my species will wash up. The sea had been pretty quiet the last few days and there had been no strong winds so the beach was free from rubbish and debris. But then as I was walking along I began to find goose barnacles! Very crushed up goose barnacles. I thought that it was a bit odd that here were my animals all crushed up, and so many of them. I kept looking, hoping I would find a live one, and wondering how they got to be so crushed. It looked like somebody had ran them over. Finally in pools of water around the rocks I began to find a few that were not crushed, and then a few that seemed to be alive. Then as I kept walking further up the beach I saw a big log that on closer inspection was covered in the remnants of barnacles! I guess that explains why there were so many on the beach, and all crushed up - the log must have been washed up and then bashed against the rocks with every high tide.

Some of the animals on the log were still alive so it can't have been there too long. I carefully chiselled off what I could and brought them back into work to show of my success. I have about a dozen live animals but they probably won't last long. It's better than nothing though and will keep my supervisor happy and off of my back (I hope). Unfortunately, now I have to actually do something with the animals, which is not really so hard or time-consuming but one of those annoying little things that you would rather put off. Now that a new week has started working with live marine animals is especially unattractive as the weather has turned awful again and I have a cold. The plan had been to go to the beach for another look-sea over the weekend but it is probably for the better that those plans went down the drain. Much better to stay in with a hot drink. Now it is October and only two months till I am in NZ, where summer had best be in full swing. I have a lot of work to try to do before then, and my health just keeps getting in the way. I would love to use my cold as an excuse to stay home but really shouldn't (instead I have a little heater under my desk to keep me warm and toasty while I sit at my computer, but I think that it might be against the rules so have to keep it hidden!). To end on a positive note, I have got my surgery moved forward to the 26th of October, so I will be all better for my birthday (yay!) and for lots of good Christmas food (double yay!!). Now if only it would stop raining!

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