Wednesday 17th February 2016

Today had a different pace to it. Instead of heading out in the field I stayed back at base camp to work in the laboratory and video conference with my students at the Rock Central School.  The day started very much like yesterday, at 6:30am, breakfast and lunch prep before heading up to the lab.  The other teachers and scientists headed out around 8:30-9am to their designated plots around Bruny Island.  As you can see from the photos, each assigned group must record their details which include car registration, stat phone number, the allocated team members, location, check in time and expected time to arrive back at base camp.  This information is so important for the base camp supervisor to monitor the activities of each group and send assistance if needed.  

    Bush Blitz noticeboard          Bush Blitz noticeboard 2        Bush Blitz basecamp

                                          The team board                                                              Summary details for the day                                                          Base camp HQ

I headed up to the laboratory and started to set up my communications equipment while I waited for a group of scientists to return with their specimens ready for processing. Cathy Byrne from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery returned around 9:30am with moth samples she has collected from light traps the previous evening. Moths are a part of the order Lepidoptera and are related to the butterfly.  There are approximately 160 000 species of moth, with many of them being nocturnal (active at night), but they are also crepuscular (active during twilight) and diurnal (active during the day).Cathy catches her specimens overnight in a bucket light trap and brings many of 

them back in a round tub. A bucket light trap, similar to this picture, shows that the moths are attracted to the light and falls down into the trap bucket, unable to get back out of the hole. These moths are alive and need to be individually collected by hand.  From there they are placed into a fridge which puts them into a 'dormancy' period. This slows down their metabolism and essentially makes them sleepy. These moths can survive for several weeks in this state of dormancy. From there, they are humanly euthanized by using a vapour solution of Ammonia Hydroxide.  This is the scientifically recommended procedure and makes the specimens much easy to handle.  These specimens will be pinned and documented as occupying (living on) Bruny Island.


Insect trap                                        

                                                                                                  These images were taken under the microscope and photographed through the eye piece. These are micro moths.



                     Cathy obtaining the samples                                         Practice makes perfect with pinning the moths                                      Looking under the microscope


Like snails, moths can also be microscopic in size.  Cathy focussed on the micrsocopic sized moths to pin.  She uses a microscope to correctly pin and display the moths. The method to correctly pin these species is located at the bottom of my blog.  Cathy was extremely patient with me and showed me the correct pinning procedure.  Now it was my turn to have a go on one of the larger moths she had collected.  For those who know me, this was the most relaxed I have been in a long while and I can confidently say I think this practice could become a hobby, and something we might start at the Rock Central School.  I spent the remainder of my afternoon pinning the entire batch Cathy had prepared.  Tonight we are heading out to set the traps (around 7pm) for another round of overnight trapping.  I have been told by many of the scientists the wildlife is amazing after dark so hopefully the weather holds off (guess what, it is going to rain again) until we arrive home around 10pm tonight. 


                                                                           My year 5 and 6 class.                                                              What the children could see.

The other exciting job I did today was establishing a video conference with my lovely students back at school.  Thank you to Mr Bromley for setting up and trialling our connection last week, as it saved a lot of time today.  First up was the year 5 and 6 classes who were very excited.  They could see me but unfortunately I could not see them so our lovely year five teacher Mrs Driscoll took a photo and shared it.  They had so many questions and have been following the blog and lessons I left for them. They were so excited many of them have already started to look at the biodiversity in the school yard and their own backyards.  How fantastic is that!!!!  We chatted for over 30 mins before they had to go.  The next class was my year 9/10 class who were extremely rowdy but defintetly patient with the jumpy internet connection.  Thank you guys for taking the time out of your day to have a chat with your teacher.  

Ok Well I better go, dinner is served and if I am going out to do night traps I better eat.  Enjoy your evening, and until tomorrow.

Mrs Tinney