Wednesday, February 23, 2011

There's good news, more good news, and bad news...


The good news is that I got to do rocky intertidal sampling last weekend, as evinced by the above photograph.

The more good news is that we finished a day early so I had Sunday just to play around there and take tons of cool pictures.

The bad news is that the above picture, taken while hiking to the rocky intertidal area, is that last picture my camera would take that day.

The image of a battery flashed wildly in the view screen as I tried to take a photograph of this gorgeous inlet where the layers of sandstone have been scooped out so you see many many layered stripes, all different shades from pale sand to deep brown, accompanied by rounded boulders.

My stomach dropped in panic.


As I pressed the take-the-freakin'-picture button over and over in manic denial, I thought about the story I'd relate to you through this photograph. It'd be so cool...

This is the very inlet, complete with sandstone shelf, that sported a very large, rotting sea lion carcass many years ago. It had washed up during an unusually high tide.

It smelled really bad.

It was gruesome.

Visitors asked about it.

Some complained: "Can't you do something about it?"

And I, smug, young little conservation biologist that I was, smiled kindly and said: "It's nature. We're not going to do anything."

And the warm, sunny days passed. And the smell and display grew more and more offensive.

Visitors were horrified. I consulted the tide charts and thought: well, it's gonna be a while...

Months later, we finally got a high tide of over 6 feet, and it was swept away.

But not before many people experienced "nature" and our comfort with it, be it ever so messy-stinky-death-in-your-face-y.

Like the time that dead gray whale washed up onto the intertidal.

HUGE huge stinky, smellly, oozy carcass. Festooned with hungry, busy gulls.

Visitors were horrified.

Rangers were grossed out.

I was fascinated.

I took close up pictures of its eye.

I took a photograph of its body in the very close foreground, and rangers in the way-far-away background, all looking at it warily, from a distance.

I loved it.

I thought "This is why I'm a biologist." Well, that, and the fact that I can voluntarily not breath through my nose so I can cease smelling at any time for any duration.

But, no. My camera battery insisted upon dying, despite my calling it a "stupid, stupid." My back up battery was safely 430 miles away, proudly shining it's green "I'm-fully-charged" light to no one in particular.

So, no rocky intertidal pictures.

No shot of where the sea lion was years ago.

Or where that gray whale was.

But, it was fun. =)

It was cool.

The rocky intertidal was awesome as ever, and there were lots of people out there having a great time, being fascinated by that seldom seen world of surprises.

And, isn't that mostly the point?

And, I now vow to always carry the back up battery in my pocket.

I promise.




  1. Just "stupid, stupid" ? - i think (know) my words would have been a bit more crude, having been in that situation before and practically punching myself in the face. Grr! I share your pain, I'm sorry :( Where was this? Love the reaction of the lay peoples, ha! Poor them. And intertidal sampling - FUN!

  2. Oh, well, I definitely just sampled a bit of what I said. Trying to keep this a child (niece, really) friendly blog, but I did not hold back in my scathing assessment of the camera right then which, while having PLENTY of battery power to flash a battery image at me, couldn't open and shut a TINY shutter just one time. Dork (me). Yes, sampling tres fun. At Cabrillo National Monument (, as was yesterday's photograph--melting sandstone and mudstone cliffs. Cannot BELIEVE how gorgeous it is there--shocked by that every time I'm there.

  3. You've always got your powerful charged up words flashing brave green lights of biological insight.

  4. Aw, jeepers, Cindy. =) (toe-in-sand)


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