So the sun is out in Belfast (just about) and that means one thing: summer has begun and with that the fieldwork season! I’m packing up my last few bits of equipment, lots of spare batteries, cameras, suncream etc. and nervously waiting for tomorrow when I’m catching an early ferry back to England, and then to Italy first thing Monday morning!
Swapping cityscapes for sea views
Over the last few weeks I’ve been working to rebuild the sunfish harnesses and this year they have a new and improved saddle section and hand-carved float, designed to fit more closely to the fish thereby reducing drag and any flapping of the data-loggers. All of the sampling gear and electronics have been checked and double-checked so all we need now are the sunfish! As always, my equipment is labelled with my email address and the details of my wonderful Italian partners the Portofino Marine Protected Area authorities (who make all of my field work possible!) and a cash reward for safe return. So if anyone happens to be holidaying in the Mediterranean this year, particularly in the Ligurian province, and a grey rubbery belt washes up on the beach with attached floats, loggers and sunfish labels: get in touch! Cash rewards and internet stardom* await!
Aside from harassing sunfish, I will also be taking samples of local marine fauna and flora for isotopic analysis of the Mediterranean ecosystem on snorkel surveys and drying/processing them in my apartment for later analysis. I hope to be out on boat work fairly regularly, but on bad weather days, I’ve got a couple of papers on the go that need a bit more attention and there is always more reading to make sure I keep ontop of the literature! If the sunfish return in reliable numbers again this year, then the Discovery Channel team may return to finish off our documentary from last year, which was incredibly good fun.
Over the next couple of months I’ll be posting photos and updates from the field as often as possible, so please wish me luck and watch this space!
*Internet virality not guaranteed; but I’ll do my best :p