Day 6 5/29/17
Weather: Rained almost all day with some sun, 70s-80s
Hiked through rain forest up to Middleham falls. Saw several species of unique vegetation. During the hike observed a site called stinking hole which had a distinguishable odor and is a large cave in the ground holding up to 60,000 bats. Additionally the water fall was quite a site, albeit a risky endeavor to walk around on the extremely slick rocks.
Progress on Projects:
Not a project intensive day on either front. Five anoles seen on the hike, one paralyzed, but all were Oculatus. No prawn progress made as I was too tired to go count tonight and Jack worked on his crab solo project. Tomorrow is the journey to the north end of the island so it will be a big day for the lizard project to really get started, especially since both species of anole have been seen there by past students.
Activities of Note:
Hiked eight miles up to Middleham Falls from the station. Passed by stinking hole, several large streams with very drinkable water, and ended at the incredible waterfall. After the strenuous hike I had very little energy for much else.
Easily the hardest hike I have ever done. Crazy to think Boiling Lake is considered an even harder trek. If I hadn’t dropped my phone in the water I would have no regrets about the day through. The journey to the falls was hard but unique and gorgeous, like most of the experiences on this trip. The waterfall itself was one of the most beautiful feats of nature I have ever seen, so pretty much made all of the uphill worth it. Plus it’s always fun to suffer as a group. I consider it a bonding experience.
Someone who I was glad I got to talk to quite a bit on the way back from the trails was Dr. Bob Kimsey, the ento professor from U.S. Davis. Truly a fascinating man to talk to, so I was glad I got the chance.
After some seriously intense hiking I was rewarded with what I believe was the greatest nap of my life. I wok up thanks to Eric just in time for dinner, which consisted of green beans, rice Mahi mahi in a creamy sauce, and fried bread fruit. A contender for one of the best meals for sure. Desert was chocolate pudding with whipped cream. Not as good as the the lemon coconut, but obviously delicious.
My muscles have already begun to get quite sore. Tomorrow should still be a very fun day but dreading the moment Jack asks to go count prawns after dinner.
RIP my phone but hopefully it will be alright after a night in the rice.
Eric’s unidentified camo cricket
Honestly, I saw very little organisms on the hike
Approximatly 82 F at ATREC
We were in the clouds part of th etime on the hike.
There was minimial rain and the rest of th etime it was sunny and cloudy
Archbold Tropical Research Education Center (ATREC)
Progress on Projects:
Travis submitted our prawn project report for us while I was hiking
Other activities of note:
We hiked to boiling lake today, which was located in Morne Trais Pitons National Park
I sent my parent an email today
We swam in Titou Gorge
Impressions and Reflections:
The hike to Boiling Lake was the best hike of the trip. It was also the last hike of the trip to Dominica which is sad.
The valley of Desolation smelled like eggs but eventually i got used to it and that part of the hike was great. Someone cooked eggs int he hot water which I thought was a good idea.
The color of the water throughout the hike was very interesting. I saw clear, gray, black, orange, and white water.
The swim at the end of the hike was great. The water was very clear and we got to jump off a small ledge. This location was the same spot that a scene in Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed.
Weather: Mid-High 80s, few clouds, sunny
Rosan Botanical Gardens
Events of the Day:
After breakfast, Erich and I went down to the creek to check for suitable trees for traps, then I came back up and left with Travis and the marine group. They dropped off Travis and I at the entrance of a trail at the Botanical Gardens and left. We climbed the trail to the top of the hill, stopping several times for Travis to note the locations of anoles, and once for me to note an Odontomachus nest associated with termites, where I saw several foragers with termite prey. We ate lunch in the flat, more managed area at the top, and then Travis wandered off to check for lizards while I looked for Odontomachus. I found a nest at the base of a large tree in the middle of the area, and spent the rest of the time there either observing their foraging or petting several adorable dogs wandering around. We headed back down the hill, drove back to the station, I took a shower, and accidentally fell asleep.
Once I woke up, Erich and I headed uphill to the other part of the station, where we found two or three trees to put traps in. We got back just in time for dinner, which was chicken, fried breadfruit, salad, and coconut custard. I got to see Dr. Bob Kimsey again, which was nice, and then we had a meeting. I went down to the creek to watch the bat group work and look at the bioluminescent click beetles. I helped Jack carry crab catching equipment back tot he wet lab, and watch him try to attach a strong to the crab’s carapace.
Ficus sp. strangler fig
Phidoles sp. Big-headed ant
Ignelator gryllidar Cricket
Staphylinidae Rove Beetle
Elateridae: Bioluminesent click beetle
Guinotia dentata Crab
Artiben jamaicensis Jamaican fruit bat
I feel like going on this many hikes all the time is going to wear me down eventually, but i suppose I will know tomorrow. The Botanical Gardens weren’t what i expected. I had been thinking of something very managed, but while the bottom and top of the hill were like that, the middle was just a nature trail.
There were a ridiculous number of lizards; we were disturbing one at least every few feet. I now have some data for my personal project, and I was very happy to get to see the trap-jaw ants in action. I’ve been thinking about this project for months and it was nice to have that validated.
Those stray dogs were really cute.
When we drove through Roseau on the way back to the station, it really didn’t seem to me like a capital city, or even like it was big enough to be a proper city, but that’s what comes from going from Texas to a small country like Dominica.
I’m glad I’ve gotten to see Dr. Bob Kimsey again. I hope I get a chance to catch up with him.
It was very peaceful sitting by the creek with the bat people in the dark, watching the glowing beetles and sometimes watching them dig a bat out of the net to measure it while it is trying to bite their fingers off.
Group: lines put up in some trees so traps can be hoisted up, other trees selected.
Individual: First data collected.
Today rocked, like very other day. Started out the morning having my cereal stolen by the cat. I still don’t understand why she’s targeted me as her victim. After breakfast, we went on our first exploration of the camp site. It took a sold 30 minutes before we even left the gates because we were looking at so many plant and wildlife species.
Pretty much every tree here can be described as “tall, green with wide leaves and fruit.” Dr. Woolley actually tried to describe one to me like that, thinking it would be a helpful description (nice try, Woolley).
Unfortunately, we couldn’t make the first part of the hike down the field station because the path had been overgrown with vegetation. We saw some super cool plants just near the buildings, through. My favorite thing that I saw was a bunch of pink pineapples growing out of an agave.We also found a fruit that Dr. Lacher cut in half so we could eat the sap from the seeds in side, which tasted like chocolate.
After we left the station, we hiked up killer staircase #1 to the bee house. Apparently there are a bunch of mango trees on the far side down some deep dark trail, but Kristen and I looked and couldn’t find any. :-(.
We then climbed staircase #2 and hiked to the old dorm. We found a bunch of termites (family Termitidae) munching on some of the trees near the dorms. After exploring the dorms, we headed back up in the other direction, where the habitats changed drastically from that of the station (canopy).
We found a couple of massive katydids (Family Tettigonilidae). Erich was the Katydid whisperer or something, he held one for a long time just chilling on his hand as another attacked Mattie and her backpack.
Later, near the end of the hike, we found this giant spotted spider that Travis carried around on his walking stick for WAY too long. I’m for sure not a spider lover.
After our hike, my group and Dr. Woolley headed down to Champagne Beach to go snorkeling, aka my favorite thing. I’ve never snorkeled at an actual reef before, and it was every bit as beautiful as I hoped it would be. The water was so blue and clear, you could see everything perfectly. I saw so many cool metallic fish, eels, and coral (listed in the species section).
We spent a long time just swimming and exploring before we took the transects. I even gave Anchal a mini swim lesson and now she’s basically a mermaid, with a giant life vest named Bertha, of course.
After we finished the transects we attached the Hobo until to about to record water temperature and headed back to Springfield for another delicious dinner. I felt like a slug afterwards and went straight to bed.
Beautiful and sunny most of the day
Briefly rained on the morning hike
Began marine project, did first set of transects at the reef
Adjusted ropes so the quadrant would hang evenly, attempted to figure out how GPS worked
Continued prep for fly project; finished assembling traps and discussed how to hang them at sites
Scouted out potential trap locations on morning hike (will set out traps tomorrow).
June 5th — I’m 21!
Project updates: Collect samples and went to Champagne beach to perform final transect. Identified Culex quincifaciatus, Culex buski, and an unknown.
Time: 7:14 AM (slept in)
Location: Springfield, Champagne beach
I’m 21!!! Ugh best day ever. I slept in and was laet to breakfast but still enjoyed my two pieces of Nutella toast. Afterwards, I went down to the stream and finished collecting all of my mosquito samples. Afterwards I went upstairs and got ready and the marine group went to Champagne beach to perform our final transect (Champagne because I’m 21).
We got to the beach the the bar was closed, so no beer for me. :-(. Afterwards when we came back o Springfield, I took a nap (surprise) then came downstairs and ate dinner. But before dinner I got the incredible news that I am officially a FISH camp counselor!!! Best birthday ever!
Anyway, then came the best part of the night–Dinner!
I got to eat chicken, and THEN I WAS GREETED WITH CHOCOLATE CAKE!! Naturally, I started crying.
Then I went to the dry lab and ID’d the mosquitoes present in the traps. There was so much crap in the traps but only two mosquitoes were present. After this is was about 10:00 PM and I went downstairs to the veranda and Travis had us sing because he is the best. Now I’m, on my bed wondering how the hell I made it to 21. I’m pretty sure I’m still 12. I’m also still thinking about the incredible cake. Anyway, today was really good. I cam so blessed have such incredible parents, friends, study abroad group, and an amazing God who loves me. Okay, I’m so sentimental so I’m going to bed. Goodnight!
Weather: Rainy in the morning, sunny in the afternoon
Dive Dominica, Champagne Beach, Scott’s Head
Pic up was at 8 am. Devon and I were the first ones on the bus for once.
Drove to dive Dominica
Tried on flippers and had to have the guy help me because I had no idea what I was doing. He laughed because I told him I had fat feet.
Snorkeled at Champagne Beach
I inhaled about a gallon of salt water since it was my first time using a mask.
After a while I got the hang of it and was diving deep.
Saw a sea cucumber and a lot of eels. Also fish. A LOT.
Switched locations–on the way we saw some bottle nose dolphins in front of the boat.
Anchal practically lost it and cried tears of joy.
While at Scott’s head I explored a bit (was stung by a jelly fish).
Followed one fish around to see where he went.
Returned to Dive Dominica and split a WONDERFUL burger with Devon
Got back on a boat to go whale watching.
We saw 11 sperm whales, the most our professors had ever seen. It was amazing.
Also saw some Pantropical spotted dolphins. Again Anchal cried tears of joy. Our guide told us that this species will bring you back to shore if you begin to drown (aw!)
Dr. Lacher high fived a lady for studying whales.
After returning to the station, some of us went to the stream and threw rocks at Travis.
Spaghetti night was held outside since a new group of Volcanology students were coming to the station.
Dominica Day 15: Tuesday June 6th
This morning seemed to be a lot harder for everyone to make it out of bed. Most people made it down around 7:10 am. Anchal actually woke up, checked Instagram, liked my pic, and then fell back to sleep so I still had to go wake her up.
After breakfast we met Clem to get on the bus for our morning adventures. First we drove over to freshwater lake where we walked around and enjoyed the view. It was so foggy and we were all regretting not bringing a jacket. We then walked up the hill towards the Boeri Lake trail.
On the way we passed by a hot spring which was really cool. After that we started the hike with Clem leading the way. It was very interesting to hear him talking about Dominican politics and what they call different plants. He said they had spent $65 million on a n energy project that they could have provided solar to the entire island with that much money. I think it is very interesting that even such a small island can be so politicized. We also saw a lot of interesting plants on the way there–my favorite is a tree that when you smell the leaves they smell just like mangoes. (I brought a whole handful of those leaves back with me to the station because if there aren’t mangoes left to eat at least there will be the smell).
Once we got up to Boeri lake it was so foggy that we couldn’t see the other side of the lake. it also started to rain and it rained HARD! So it was wet, windy, and cold at the top-but oh well. I even had my own little dance party in the rain (Travis hated that, lol).
Some people swam while we were up there but about half of us concluded that it was much too cold for that. The way down the trail was extremely slippery–i was a little worried about my camera getting wet or crushed. Lindsay also kept getting really mad at me for jumping off rocks because she was paranoid that I was going to fall and break both of my legs. But luckily enough that didn’t happen and we all made it down (mostly) unscathed.
The drive back to the station was relatively uneventful. I did however forget to mention that on the way there we stopped so we could see the highest road on Dominica that we drove on during the ride there.
We also pulled over for Woolley to collect leaves out the window–something that would only happen during a field biology study abroad.
We made it back to the station around 1:30 PM. A lot of people took advantage of that time to catch up on their journals or take a nap. I could be found, like always, enjoying the view from the veranda and trying to be semi-productive with writing my individual paper.
I’ve decided to map the distance from the big cities but instead examine what is upstream of the most polluted water so I started working on that this afternoon.
After a restful afternoon we ate a yummy dinner, and then I helped Jack with his project. We walked along the road in the pouring rain to climb down to release the crab and then we walked back to the station and down tot he river that way. When we were almost all the way down we caught a giant crab that was just sitting on the path–easiest crab hunt yet.
I am so exhusted and ready for a chill day tomorrow.
Project status: I am pretty much still at the same place as yesterday. Most everything field and lab wise is done but there is still quite a bit of writing and data analysis to do. Tomorrow is a research day so I will have a lot of time to work on my project data and start reaching some conclusions. marine group still has a lot to do.
Other random notes:
We are all very nervous for Boiling lake
I still haven’t napped
I named the newest crab Carl
I am very scared of getting hit by a car here.
June 3rd 2017
Weather: Sunny and in the high 80s F, so in better words HOT, when not raining
Location: Springfield, Roseau, Stinking Hole
What I did:
After breakfast, we headed into the town of Roseau to do some shopping. We left around 8:30 am and it was bout a 20 minute drive. I’m not a big fan of cities in the first place, but I like shopping but I wasn’t fond of the city. Most of the shops had the same little trinkets but I managed to find something for my little brother and boyfriend. I also got sandals from the leather shop. The man traced my foot and drew the design I wanted over it. Kylee and I got the same sandal but I got a red accent and she got a teal color. We did, however, get amazing pizza and it was the highlight of our trip into town. It was from Perky’s pizza. Kristin and I shared a 12′ cheese pizza and oh my gosh, it was so good. I have missed pizza so much. The first thing I’m doing when I get home is ordering a Domino’s cheese pizza with extra cheese. Cheesy goodness.
Finally we came home an all us bat circles crammed in a nap before we had to leave for stinking hole. I was still pooped after my nap. We got ready and left around 4:154 pm. We drove up the long stretch of drive before the forest. We thought we could make it to the parking lot. Keyword: thought. We started drive up. We hit a few rough spots in the road. It was scary. I felt like we were in Jurassic Park. I literally thought the car was going to give out. We thought we made it up the worst parts but we were wrong. Dr. Lacher couldn’t get the car up this one area. We were beginning to get close to the edge. At one point the back right tire was smoking! He made us get out of the car and stand a safe distance away. At this point the back tires had like no traction. It was driving my anxiety up just watching him trying to get up this rough patch. He got very close to the edge of the cliff.
Eventually we got a stick under the back right tire and us 3 girls pushed while Dr. Lacher gassed it and we got the car over the rough patch. He then decided to just park the car and us hike the rest of the way. We hiked the 15 minutes to the parking lot. It was another 20 from that point to Stinking hole. Once we got there we set up one bat net across the path down from the smelly hole. We watched some of the emergence and it was so freaking cool. There were so many bats! We caught about 24 bats before we started catching and releasing bats. Those 24 were all the same species, and this was a good sample size. We caught three Brachyhylla though. The were huge and mean! And they screamed like crazy!
Aroudn this time was when I asked the question “What would we do if it started raining?” Dr. Lacher was unconcerned with this question and told me that it wasn’t supposed to rain so it was no big deal. Five minutes later it sarted to pour. I jinxed our luck! I am no longer allowed to ask weather related questions ever again.
We covered the bats in socks with the corner of the tarp. Dr. Lacher and I began to process them while Audrey and Mattie caught the remaining bats in the net. we were like am achene collecting data from all these bats. We were so muddy and gross from all the rain and mud! Mattie was the worst, though, she fell int he mud an then sat in the mud for most of the bat data collecting. Our blue tarp we sat on was disgusting! The underside was cleaner that what were were sitting on.
We finally packed up and hiked back. Matting slipped like another two times and I slipped once. The drive down was much more uneventful than the way up and we made it hoem safely.
Project Updates: Netted at stinking hole. caught 40 bats total and released 12 Monophyllus plethedon. We processed 27 bats total. 24 were Monophyllus plethadom and three were Brachyphylla cavemanum. We took their measurements and collected ectoparasites. Most were streplid bats and one other something that needs to be identified. One bat either escaped the bat sack or escaped before the sack was closed.