It was our last day on the island. I had a nice, sleepy day when I wasn't preppin' for our sea cucumber presentation. My group and I got the Heron Island Bill Nye award for best presentation! We had a good cuke crew. I also won the Bob Ross artistic merit award because I can't take goddamn GoPro photos but I CAN draw the events of the day. Can you think of two better people to be compared to in one day?! I sure-as-peas can't. Feelin' like a real champ!
I'm probably gonna miss some of my classmates and my cute/cool professors. Had a lot of fun bantering with all these dinguses. I'm also going to miss the radtastic cucumbers and the many many colorful fish. It's been a real wild ride and a crazy fun time.
Seemingly mundane but actually notable moments:
1. When my swim shorts blew off the railing and into the spiderwebs, and Katie retrieved them for me without me even asking her. She's the bravest person I know.
2. Kenen describing what it would be like to walk his pet salamander on a leash. Also Kenen not recognizing the song "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees.
3. Having to constantly dodge Sean swimming up to the surface from the deep.
4. Getting a face full of either Clark booty or Clark fin splashings whilst searching for sea cucumbers and fighting a mighty current.
5. Yelling "double sharks!!" and screaming like excited middle school girls with Russ. Despite us being underwater, multiple people within 5 meters heard us yelling and squealing like idiots.
6. Feuding with Zach across multiple rounds of Coup. We need to learn how to get along in games.
7. Trisha discriminating against a gimpy seagull because she didn't believe he had a disability.
8. Games are fun!
9. Edd's song about pizza. The lyrics:
"Getting more pizza
I don't give a shit
I'm gonna be a fat kid
And that's just it."
Inspired. I kind of want to cover it.
I might add to this list later, but we'll see. For now, this is probably gonna be it. Just hangin' out! Great Barrier Reef! Hooray!
Sorry, this entry is gonna be boring snoring. I've been cucumbering all day. We had to fight the current and strong winds and lay transects while swimming, which was wild. Got it done, though, and ended up with a lot of data. Feelin good about our project and alllllmost sick of sea cucumbers. They're still cute n cool though.
Big news: I've been voted "most likely to get away with murder" and "most likely to be secretly kinky." No comment on either of those things. Y'all are wacky. Good folks to be stranded on an island with.
Tomorrow is our last day. Time flies! Then I'm off to Brisbane for a couple more days, then it's off to Glacier! This has been crazy good experience. I'm so happy I got to spend a couple weeks out here. Thanks again, Trisha and Edd; this has been transformative.
We got a bunch more sea cucumber data today, despite the crazy annoying wind. We're up to 7 transects and have seen so many cukes out there. We've used almost our whole study area already. We are cucumber champions. We are cucumber heroes!!
Right before lunch, we practiced doing nothing. I got this picture of a buff-banded rail:
These dorks are always hangin around trying to steal food. They're cute but sometimes I want to throw them in the trash.
A low-effort limerick about the birds:
These dorks walk upon the ground.
They squawk and make many a sound.
Hang onto your snacks,
For they gather in packs,
And will steal food while you're turned around.
I'm gonna practice doing nothing some more.
I've decided to draw all my pictures today because I'm too lazy to find photos.
Today was a cucumbery day. My group started on the field work for our research project, setting transects to measure available sea cucumber habitat and hunting for 'em out in the lagoon. We saw 5 species. Some of them look like food, but you probably shouldn't eat them. Some people do anyway. We also looked at pictures of different cucumber species and read all about them. We are getting pretty good at sea cucumbers.
Here are the 5 species we've been counting on Research Beach:
My group is doing pretty well together so far. Both my lab partners, Clark n Kenen, are radtastic humans. Sometimes we get stupid excited about cucumber stuff. It is hard to know who's going to be a good fit in a group project-style setting. I feel like we're problem-solving and sharing ideas relatively smoothly for the most part, and we're all mostly chill. We just want good data and a solid project. Clark is nice about my lines never being straight on the data sheet, even though he won the straight lines contest, and Kenen never lets me feel bad about not doing math very quickly out in the field. Math is hard! Even if you like it!
Here we are doing our research:
Kenen kept getting eviscerated on by that stringycumber.
I'm having fun, but I miss real coffee and my spotted cat. Been out here about 5 weeks which is wacky. When I go home, I'll be changed for the better, because I'll know so much more about sea cucumbers than I ever have dreamed!
Cucumbers are zany.
Today was a wacky day here on the Great Barrier Reef. We saw a lot of tubular wildlife, including a dang TIGER SHARK and a massive loggerhead turtle. I can't even believe the cool things I'm seeing, man! I wrote a poem about the shark:
A Frantic Edd
Roses are red
Winter is gray
Get the hell out the water,
It's coming this way!
Ode to teeth
Oh shiver shiver shiver,
How your fins make me quiver.
You swim so legato,
My heart goes staccato!
Alas it is you, my bestriped muse,
Sharks are actually so beautiful, how they just cut through the water. I feel like a ridiculous monkey splashing around in the sea. Isn't it weird that we keep visiting them?
We visited the outer reef again, possibly for the last time, so here is a picture of yours truly hangin' out with the worms and weird fishes:
Thank you, Edd, for taking that photo. It is really superb. Finally a good photo of me on Heron Island!
And here's me again pallin' around with a couple schools of cute cute lil fish:
Some of us have been playing Coup, one of my favorite games, and it's a helluva good time. I'm most surprised by sweet Katie, who is scary good at being able to tell if someone is bluffing. She made us all her BITCH a couple rounds in a row with her expert discernment and quiet strategy. Board games are such a great way to get to know people.
Finally, Kenen and I are trying to come up with a good name for a group of sea cucumbers. So far as we can tell, no such term exists, so we can probably invent one ourselves and totally contribute to science in this meaningful way. Here are some of the top contenders:
A cooler of cucumbers
A cache of cucumbers
A jupiter of cucumbers
A pickle of cucumbers
A patch of cucumbers
We're open to suggestions, dear reader, so fire away if you think of something ingenius.
I've been thinking a lot about sea cucumbers. My lab partners and I are doing our project on them, so I'm always watching for them, seeing them in my dreams, reading about them. Something many people don't know is that sea cucumbers are ultra badass. They can literally shoot out their insides at predators when being attacked, just to freak 'em out! I wrote a song about it:
Yeah, I'm definitely letting past me put forth the brunt of the effort in this post. The song is real funky and reeeeeeal stupid, but has weirdly enhanced my life: I made it for extra credit but it also got me a gig doing music for a science communication project.
Today, we went to the outer reef again. It was pure grooviness. I saw all of the turtles. One was massive, and swam right up to me. It was either really curious about me, or frustrated because it was trying to take a breath and I was in the way. I also saw many of the fish species I had regurgitated the names of earlier this morning when I took the ID quiz. Here are some other things I saw:
1. A spotted eagle ray leaping out of the water and bellyflopping like a dork
2. A cleaner wrasse moving in and out of a bigger fish's gills (can you imagine the level of trust here?)
3. A black-tipped reef shark
4. Some sea cucumbers
5. Some sand
6. Big fishes and little fishes
7. Hella much water
I am so sleepy but will keep trying to bring you quality content, so here is yet another unflattering photo of me filming the reef along a transect line:
At this point I kind of hope there isn't a flattering photo of me to come from this part of my Australia trip; it's kinda funny and I would lose my title as queen of the dweebs. I'm real cute in real life but GoPro photo me is evidently just a dumpster fire.
Fishes ID test
Never gonna have 'em down
Kiss 5 points goodbye
Laying transect lines
In the current and strong waves
Is so frustrating
With strawberries, apricots!
Excellent tea time.
Black sea cucumbers
Shoot their guts at predators
They are so badass
Nap nap nap nap nap
Nap nap nap nap nap nap nap
Nap nap nap nap nap
Always getting wet
Sometimes wish for a day off
From the big ol sea
I'd never used a GoPro before today.
I imagined the glorious videos I would take of colorful aquatic fauna along the Great Barrier Reef during this magical, once-in-a-lifetime experience. They took us to the outer reef to explore, and I checked out a GoPro to bring along. Reverently, I tied it around my wrist and imagined the professional-looking videos I would take home with me. What I didn't realize is that, if you press the button for too long, it will take hundreds and hundreds of photos, not videos. When we got back and I accessed my SD card, I realized I had accidentally taken two thousand photos. Not only that, but there were very nearly zero photos of fish. I must have primarily had the camera turned on while splashing around and rarely ever pointed it at the damn reef. Behold:
There I am, adjusting my snorkel. I'm also upside-down. So cute! You can also see someone else's little head bobbing around in the sea in the background.
Behold, the wonders of this blue planet!
Yeah, this is someone's actual ass. Don't know whose. Feast your eyes on the majesty of this glorious, pulchritudinous ocean!
This one is actually kind of cool. I don't know who that is (maybe Kenen?), but you can see where he kicked his fins. And look, I got a picture of the goddamn reef! And also of my boob.
#blessed #greatbarrierreef #goals #nature
Was I planning on sitting on the damn camera?
I did eventually manage to get a photo of some dang coral.
What the heck IS this?!?!
Looks like I got a decent booty shot of Edd, too. So majestic! The world's biggest living organism!
Hopefully I can still pass the class after publicly posting an image of my professor's British arse. In all seriousness, the reef was actually pretty stunning. But you'll have to take my word for it because I have ZERO PROOF. At least I met my goal of taking more photos. I consider the day an ass-tounding win.
It's okay to be scared of them. Some early hominids must have figured out that some of them can hurt us, so now many humans are scared of all spiders. It's unfortunate, because they can objectively be cool (though in my heart of hearts I still think they are ookie spookie).
I want to talk about the golden orb weavers outside our dorm rooms. Some of them are massive--at least as big as the palm of my hand--and they're really menacing with their long-ass orange-banded legs and cold, gray bodies. They build intricate layers of webs, and many of them live together in their giant happy silky society of nope. I usually walk quickly past them avoiding eye contact, like awkwardly avoiding that one coworker that you secretly hate. But, on our second day on the island, I noticed the silk of their webs catch the sun.
It is truly a lustrous, deep, shimmering gold.
I have never been so floored by the beauty of one small product of the animal kingdom. I've also never experienced such a poignant juxtaposition of awe and fear. These animals are just doing their life, giving nary a fuck about me, spinning air into gold, and now I think about them every day. I watch them every chance I get with reverence, admiration, and horror.
This is not my photo, I'm sorry. I meant to take a photo today, and didn't get around to it. From now on my goal is to take more photos of things. And also, you are welcome for making that photo real small because otherwise I'd probably have to add a goddamn TRIGGER WARNING BECAUSE YIKES!
Onto the day's events.
Busy day! I usually enjoy being put to work, even in wildly windy conditions that blow my body around in the sea. We took sediment cores along a transect to measure the amount of invertebrates near the coral reef patches. In other words, we dug up sand to look for bugs n shit. It was pretty meditative (a kinder word for "tedious") to look through the scopes for hours, searching for tiny invertebrates hiding in the sediment. I found the second most tiny purple rocks, a Heron Island symbol for patience (as of today). I didn't mind the day at all, and I keep discovering more people around me who are good to banter with.
I just remembered I do have a photo that I took recently. It's of the cool-ass shipwreck near the island. Behold:
This is all invaluable and salient experience that I'm so happy to add to my life and resume. I dedicated so much of my life to music and social work, and feel like I built a very respectable career doing those things after I failed out of college that first go-around. Now that I've returned to school, well-travelled, confident, finally disciplined/organized, happier, and in a completely different field of study, I feel tremendously lucky to happen upon these opportunities that will help me get the most out of school and shape my new career.
I'm supremely grateful to be wanted here.
PS. Guys, never feel bad if you need to leave school (or any other relevant hard thing), gain some life skills, and come back when you're ready. Also, never feel bad if you're scared of spiders even though they are small and mostly not deadly. They are scary, and it is okay. It is also okay to be in second place in the purple rock-finding contest. That's still a lot of rocks.
Today is May 30th. We visited the coral reef today. It was glorious and I saw so many animal creatures. I didn't take a picture, but I did take a screenshot of my computer game that looks kind of the same:
The game is called Bubble Trouble, and it's from the 90s. I don't think anyone plays it anymore on Earth except for me. Consequently, it is actually possible I'm the best at it out of anyone in the world. My high score is over 1.1 million points. Wouldn't it be neat to be the very best at a thing in the whole world?
We also did a lab today. We set up transects and looked at things in the sea. I thought my lab partner and I would be a dream team, but it turned out that neither of us knew how to tell the difference between algae and coral. Then, after we figured that out, we still ran into trouble telling the difference between dead coral and rocks. Here are the profound questions we pondered the most:
1. Are coral corpses the same as rocks?
2. Are tiny rocks the same as sediment?
3. At what point is rocks pebbles?
4. At what point is pebbles sand?
Besides the lab, I ate delicious meals and listened to my book (shoutout to Brando Sando; this is my first of his books because I want to be able to talk about more stuff with my sister who is a superfan), and definitely didn't study the animals that are going to be on the ID quiz on Monday. I don't sound like a very good student. Hopefully Edd and Trisha skip over today's post.
That about covers it. I otter call it a night. Thanks for tuning in!