Skillz: a park volunteer (yet another professional biologist) perched atop a large marine boulder (at Cabrillo National Monument) searching for and measuring every owl limpet (Lottia gigantea) within 1 meter of a metal bolt. Note the wet spots where her feet were are only where owl limpets are not. She's good. =)
This is a picture of a good day.
If you see me doing this,
you will know I am in my happy place.
I will have ocean-soggy feet,
blonde hair flying wildly,
and a semi-permanent grin on my face.
I love the above photo
because it shows you a part of this work
that is very important,
but few would ever think of.
Our team: 3 professional biologists working for free 'cause a) we're just that nerdy, b) it's such a freakin' awesome place, and c) it's a fabulous cause. =) Note the orange chalk marking either the plot boundaries, or owl limpets that have already been measured.
Something that adds another level of complexity
and makes me love this work all the more.
Aside from having to lean into, hover over, squat under, or perch upon
a cold, hard, damp, variably squishy or scratchy boulder for up to an hour,
and find and measure all the owl limpets
(being careful not to confuse smaller L.g. with other species),
you need to do it without crushing any owl limpets.
Don't tread on me! Lovely owl limpets. Note the area they've cleared of competitors (via bulldozing) so they can farm algae. Pretty awesome and interesting way of life. Clearly, though, it's tough to doze your own back....
And perching can include tip-toe-ing around on slimy
boulders or ledges: slipping is not an option.
Sometimes you get smacked around by waves,
and you always have to watch the tide.
Sing with me! "Every Lottia is sacred. Every Lottia is great. If a Lottia gets wasted, bb gets quite irate."
Finally, these boulders, ledges, and cliffs were selected for this study
because they sport so many owl limpets. High density.
I kind of love that.
So, while you try to work quickly and accurately,
to accomplish as much as possible in the time given,
within an ever-changing environment that's entirely out of your control,
you must also ensure that you don't hurt anyone.
I think it's good practice.
For lots of things.