Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day 7-Frank

Another day winding down in the South Pacific; another beautiful day with clear skies but choppy water. Today was the big hike up one of the mountains led by Dr. Niewiarowski. We left in the van right after breakfast to our starting point, a lookout over the two bays (this is where we took the picture on day 1 of the blog). The hiking was strenuous with lots of variation in altitude and the path was riddled with rocks and tree roots. The scenery along the route was enjoyable with many exotic plants, trees, and flowers. We crossed 5 or 6 small streams by carefully stepping along the protruding rocks; to the delight of many and the dismay of a few, no one fell in (although there was no shortage of soggy shoes today). Our fearless leader fearlessly led us in the wrong direction twice along the way which was humorous at first but all the backtracking led to many grumbles about exhaustion and sore legs. We stopped for a breather in a bamboo thicket where I was coaxed into climbing a bamboo shoot. The trek to the top was indeed the most strenuous activity I (and I think many of us) have done in years (we don’t get enough exercise because we are such diligent students and we’re always studying)! By the time we were back to the van everyone was dripping in sweat and excited it was over but glad they had accomplished their goal. There was much chatter about ice cream, cold drinks, and swimming on the ride back to CRIOBE. When we returned we devoured our lunch and half of us took a nap while the other half went for a snorkel. The waves were choppy because of high winds but the water has been incredibly and consistently warm throughout the week. The snorkelers saw a Pufferfish and two people lost parts of their fin straps from being knocked into coral heads in the surf. The gecko tail regeneration project continues with dosing their drugs and trying to find bugs the geckos will eat. The gecko running team finished their vertical running trials and concluded that house geckos are about 3 times as fast as the mournful geckos, which might be why they are so successful at invading their territory. The project continues tonight with horizontal speed trials. The fish group continues to run their assays on the butterfly fish we have been collecting and preliminary data should be available later tonight. It was found that the gut length of herbivorous butterfly fish is 3-4 times as long as carnivorous species. Tonight we will be doing fish printing (painting a fish and sticking it on a t-shirt) because the internet will be down as CRIOBE has a conference call with France. I think our group is bonding well and everyone has found a part of a project that they have taken charge of. Not everything has gone according to plan, the internet is lousy, and weather has complicated out projects but there’s not a more beautiful place we could be having these problems! Cheers from Moorea.

Day 6-James

NOTE-We're having lots of trouble with the internet on Moorea-sorry the blog is late!

Unsurprisingly, it was another gorgeous day on Moorea. The wind was blowing and the sea was choppy, but it looks to be pretty hard to upset the natural beauty here. It’s a holiday as well, something of an Independence Day for French Polynesia. This was found out after a bit of research as to why the people in the house up the hill from Criobe had been partying for around 36 hours straight. If any of us missed popular music from back home, we don’t anymore.
Lizard group just got started on their trials for the night, adhering to the geckos normal sleep cycles. The motility researchers are slated to finish up the last of their vertical running speed trials this evening, and the regeneration team continues feeding and dosing their animals, as it’s too early to see any tail growth.
Fish group spent the morning splitting up to assay fish and catch them at once at White House, and following lunch the divers went out to Coconut Grove and managed to spear more. It was also decided today that the lionfish that was caught earlier would be donated to Criobe’s aquarium.
Tomorrow Dr. Niewiarowski is leading a four-hour long hike up one of the island’s mountains. We’re settling in to the rhythm of data collection and analysis here, so it should be a nice break. It’s supposed to be fairly strenuous, so there ought to be plenty to report tomorrow. Until then, thanks for following our blog!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 5-Nick

Whats up?! Today everybody woke up to the usual sounds of a Tahitian house party going on next to the station and a rooster crowing! The groups started out by getting some breakfast in the absolutely dismal weather we were having. The fish group needed to collect more fish to work with, so we headed to white house beach to sling some more! I caught four long nose butterflyfish, and the divers helped us out by catching another five! It was a productive work day for both groups as our projects are beginning to develop. The lizard group started out by finding a tree in the woods that had multiple geckos on it, completing their collection! The fish group brought back the fish we had caught to begin dissecting and running assays on the fresh tissue. Meanwhile the lizard group ran some of their lizards through different tests before we all came together for dinner. For dinner we had one of my favorites, carbonara! After dinner the two groups had a meeting to discuss what both groups are doing and what we want to accomplish before the end of the trip. The night is ending with more work. The lizards group is doing more tests, and the fish group is cutting up fish to do more assays!

Day 4-Briana

Greetings from Moorea! Around 8:30am the whole group went out to the Motu, where we swam with rays and sharks. The gecko group and fish group made progress today on their assignments. The gecko group processed the ten geckos they caught yesterday and housed the geckos they needed. They also did some practice runs with the equipment. After dinner we caught seven more geckos to add to our collection. The fish group, out of the four fish they caught yesterday, euthanized two. They dissected them and used the stomach and liver to assay catalase, which gave them a positive result. Around 8pm, the group jumped into the van and traveled to Tiki Village Theater, where we learned about Polynesian culture through dance and song. Even a couple of us danced along with them, Frank being the star of the show (eating fire and all). Coming back we are all a little sleepy and ready for bed thus ending another successful day in the South Pacific.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 3-Angela

Hello everyone!! Today was an exciting day for both groups. After breakfast this morning, the fish group headed out to test using the spear guns made of a spear and a rubberband type sling to catch the fish needed for the experiments. Catching the fish with spears was a truly thrilling experience. Ashley was the first to catch a fish. Wade caught four fish (He is shown in the picture). Rich caught a fish as well. The gecko groups processed twenty-four of their animals and ran pretrials for their experiments. This evening they caught ten more. All the fishing and processing of geckos was done before lunch. For lunch, we had raviolli and some other sidedishes. After lunch the gecko group continued with the processing, and the fish group began running their tests. During this time it began to rain. The rain here is completely different from the rain back home. Also, the clouds just sit on top of the mountains for a long time until the weather finally comes in. In the late afternoon, the divers headed out to be checked out for the first time to be able to dive. The others who were not able to dive spent some time at White House snorkeling for an hour or so. Once arriving back at Criobe, we had dinner that consisted of rice with a chicken and peas dish. After dinner, both groups did more work for their projects. Thus far, we have been very successful and are heading in the right direction to come to some data for our projects. Everyone is having a great time and as a whole group, we are bonding quite nicely!

Day 2-Brandon

It is day two here at the CRIOBE Station on Moorea and it’s been a long, but great, day. Group breakfast was early and then we were headed for a hike up to check out one of the waterfalls near-by. Before embarking on our quest up the mountain the group stopped in town at a place called “Tiki Village,” where we got a tour of some traditional Polynesian culture and a glimpse of where most of us will be Saturday night; the traditional Tahitian Fire Dance. After getting some culture, we started our hike up to the waterfall. The ocean scenery and enormous mountains all around us seemed almost too surreal and unbelievably beautiful. The hike itself was a bit steep and slippery but was well worth the trip. The waterfall, since it’s currently the dry season, wasn’t pouring water, but it was still pretty amazing. Some of us cooled off in the water at the bottom of the waterfall, and even though it was stunningly cold at first, it was nice to cool off after a long trek in the jungle. After the hike we stopped at a few scenic spots and got some fantastic pictures and then it was back to the station for lunch, which as we’re beginning to learn, is always delicious. After lunch we were off again and this time since the cruise ship was docked, the locals set up a market to sell pearls and jewelry and t-shirts to tourists like ourselves. After an hour or two of shopping and bargaining we met with our individual research groups (Gecko group and Fish group,) to figure out our next step in our proposals. The fish group went snorkeling at one of the local beaches and my group, the lizard group, set out to hunt to some geckos. We returned after a few hours of collecting and had caught ten geckos total, not bad for a few hours work. The fish group on the other hand…not so lucky. They back from their adventure with a poisonous lion fish and a new respect, I think, for the lizard group, but I’m sure they’ll have more luck tomorrow. Dinner was next on the itinerary and we had some spaghetti and fresh fruit salad waiting for us when we got back, Dinner with everyone ended and then it was more research. If things keep going this great, I’m not sure I’ll make it back to the states!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 1- Cory

We have arrived! Our plane touched down in Tahiti around 6:30 Tuesday night after a long day of multiple flights. To the surprise of many of us, it was almost completely dark by the time we landed, so not much could be seen on our drive from the Moorea airport to the Criobe lab we are staying at. But, waking up this morning and realizing that we are staying at the base of a mountain was amazing! The entire view surrounding the Criobe lab is a sight to behold. After getting ready for the day, we all trekked along a trail that led us to two great photo opportunities; a small waterfall and a vantage point overlooking both of Moorea’s bays. Then it was time for lunch where we had two different tuna dishes that we prepared by an island native. And they tasted delicious! After letting our food settle we went to the bank to exchange our American money for French Francs to use on the island. After returning and resting for about a half hour we then went snorkeling at the nearby public beach for a couple of hours. As for it being my first time ever snorkeling, I had a blast. The marine life on the reef was awesome! We then returned to the lab and ate dinner as a group outside. Once again it was fantastic, and I am enjoying the ability of trying new food every day. Moorea is an incredibly beautiful place; words cannot even do it justice. This is going to be a trip to remember