Friday 19th Feb - Day Six: Visiting Cape Bruny

I can safely cross 'Let Trapdoor spider crawl on your bare hand' off my bucket list. Whilst I don't recommend EVER doing it on your own, I was in the presence of arachnology greatness - Dr Robert Raven from the University of Queensland. He has been working with spiders for 42 years and has developed tips and tricks to make the study of them easier. For instance, if Dr Rob wants to know if a spider is of a particular type, he places them in a specimen jar where they can't support their own weight against opposite walls. When the specimen jar is tipped and the spider happens to fall, it does not have pads of dense hair under its legs. If it doesn't fall, then it does have pads of dense hair. Using a microscope to see if the spiders have these pads can take about an hour and is too arduous. So this method saves a lot hassle.  Dr Rob showed me how to search through leaf litter (taken from Mt. Mangana) and syphon small (using his self-made device, called a 'pooter'). The most intriguing specimen to me was the Badge Huntsman that has a gorgeous pattern like a shield under its abdomen. It had been in the fridge to slow it down and my job was to warm it up with the body heat from my hand so that it could wake up. I didn't have much luck.

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Dr Rob dropped Abbie, butterfly and moth scientist, and Kevin, land snail scientist, to Standard Survey Site 2 then continued on with Louise and myself to Cape Bruny. What a view! Cape Bruny is incredible. We came here to survey the site with Dr Robert Raven, arachnologist. He had come here during the evening yesterday and came back during the day to assess the daytime conditions of the habitat where the spiders lived. Louise and I managed to Skype our classes from there and Dr Rob answered a lot of pressing quesitons from our students.

Afterward, we picked Abbie and Kevin up from SSS2 and then went back to base. Later we will go back out on a night expedition.

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