Saturday 20th February. Intertidal zone exploration!

Today is Saturday and it is the last day for collecting organisms. It’s hard to believe that the Bush Blitz is nearly over. The weather in the morning was glorious. It was shaping up to be a fine, cool day with a gentle breeze. After the usual morning jobs to do to prepare for a full day out in nature the teachers, scientists and organisers had a group photo.

I was assigned to assist Dr Fiona Scott and Dr Kirrilly Moore, who are specialist in certain marine life, for the day. The scientist’s priority for the day was to collect at an intertidal zone (the shoreline and just off the shoreline) at Adventure Bay which is on the east coast of the island.

Firstly they checked the wind speed and direction, temperature and the tides for the day before heading out. Having this knowledge is vital to a safe and successful day of collecting!

Before we all headed for Adventure Bay we drove about 30 minutes to survey site 2, just past an area called The Neck. We were there to collect any insects within the traps set by the insect scientist and to dismantle them. The scientists were very careful to leave the environment as close to how they found it.

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The traps had some fluid in the base and this is what the trapped insects would stick to. They had been out for a number of days so we were hoping for some unique specimens. Most of the traps, except one, were burrowed into the ground. The variety of insects caught were ants, moths, scorpions and the odd spider. We poured the liquid from the trap into a large reused plastic container with a lid. Back at the vehicle the liquid was strained with a sieve and the insects were put into specimen jars with a label. Also Dr Fiona took the longitude and latitude (GPS location) of the site as this is also needed. These were handed over to the insect scientists when we got back to base at the end of the day.

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It was back in the four wheel drive for a long drive to Adventure Bay. The bay looked absolutely beautiful. It is in this bay that French and English explorers anchored, including Captain Cook and Captain Bligh. Dr Fiona and Dr Kirrilly finally decided on a small bay area called Quite Corner as the collection site. They changed in to their snorkelling gear and headed off for the rocky bluff with their sample bottles.

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There was such a range of marine organisms in the rock pool area. Starfish, amoeba, seaweed and crustaceans just to name a few. After about 1 ½ hours of snorkelling among the long seaweed close to the rocks the scientists returned to the shore to show one another and me the variety in their collection.

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Back at the base Dr Fiona and Dr Kirrilly took all the wonderful specimens to the lab for sorting, labelling, checking against photos and writing up into their journals. The collecting at Adventure Bay was one of the highlights of the expedition for me.