Skip navigation
You are here: Home > NaturePlus > Blogs > Tags

Blog Posts

Blog Posts

Items per page
0

It has been a great day for snails and slugs collecting - it's pouring with rain! Jon Ablett, who did the previous Nature Live satellite link, is happy that the land snails will be out and about, making the most of the wet weather.

 

For our event on day 8, we were joined by James Maclaine, curator of fish at the Museum, who showed some of the specimens he has found. James brought a list of the fish we already had in the Museum collection prior to the trip and is trying to match the species he finds on this trip to the ones on the list. It is important to collect at different times in the same location, to spot any changes. He's also blogging about his work on the trip and his first post is here.

 

picture 1 (Custom).JPGJames Maclaine and Rosemary Parslow (who in the 70s collected the fish and echinoderms from the Isles of Scilly for the Museum's collections)

 

picture 2 (Custom).jpgIn the Museum's Attenborough Studio, Charlotte Coales and Wai-Yee Cooper show some of the dry and wet specimens from the fish collection, while James and I listen in the background

 

The visitors asked some great questions about the different habitats of fishes, how to catch them and the route James took to become a fish scientist.

 

picture 3 (Custom).JPGAs well as the audience in the studio at the Museum, this live-link also featured an audience here in the Woolpack, headquarters of this field trip

 

We have also been inviting people from the town to come and see what the Museum scientists have been doing here on the Isles of Scilly. Quite a few came to chat with James about the fish while receiving - and giving - good tips to each other about where to look for more species and how to catch them. It appears to be paying off for James as you will be able to read later today on the blog.

 

Ana-Rita

20

In just over a week we fly out to Mexico to prepare for the arrival of Museum scientists Chiara Petrone and Dave Smith. We will be following them as they ascend the 2nd highest volcano in North America and the most active in Mexico, Popocatepetl.

 

Familiar with field work on active volcanoes such as Stromboli (Italy), Santorini (Greece), Vesuvius (Italy) and the Mexican Volcanic Arc, this is new territory for Chiara, whose aim is to collect samples to bring back to the Museum to study.

 

Popocatepetl Creative - Commons Copyright Cvmontuy.jpg

In early February, we'll be following Museum scientists as they perform their field work on Popocatepetl - the 2nd highest volcano in North America and the most active in Mexico. Image: Cvmontuy

 

Working alongside our scientists is Professor Hugo Delgado-Granados, a researcher from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). The team are hoping to discover the entire history of the volcano from the rocks they collect, spending a working week hammering in the outcrops and climbing up to 5,000 metres, carrying rocks on their backs.

 

Reaching only a few hundred metres from it's very peak, the crater area is at present, too dangerous to climb to as 'Popo' is in an 'eruptive mood'. Let's hope this mood stays stable enough for us to climb and find specimens that will help them fully understand this incredible, natural phenomena.

 

Join the adventure and post up questions for the team on our blog posts, and come along to the Museum's Attenborough Studio where we'll live-video-link on the 5, 6 and 9 of Feb. Altenratively, kick back and watch us on a live-web-stream here. Whatever you do, do take part. We'd love the company as we scramble up a constantly erupting volcano with backpacks full of black rock.

0

Last night we got A LOT of rain. Bizarrely, it made all the frogs come out and they were so loud they kept us up most of the night!

 

 

We woke up bright and early (this is becoming the norm now!) and the sun was there to greet us. But alas, so was the wind. We set up a mock Attenborough Studio right on the beach – complete with chairs, coffee table and an audience! And after a few technical glitches, we video-linked live to London and spoke to Nature Live host Natalie and Professor Geoff Boxshall. Great fun and Geoff even put in a request for some specimens so we’ll be heading to the other side of the island later in the week to collect some copepods for him.

 

Bahamas-NL.jpg

Above: It's the first time I've ever done a Nature Live barefoot!
(Click images to see them full size)

 

Diva and I also live-chatted with some schools online – Bowhunt, Wigmore, Elmshurst and Ashcroft – who asked some great questions! We’re looking forward to the next session on Tuesday.

 

Helena and Diva showed how diligent they were; while the sun was shining they were hunched over their microscopes looking for new species. Extra credit for them!

 

 

 

 

After lunch we all headed out to the sea grass beds to see what we could find.

 

P1000189.jpg

Above: No Photoshop required!

 

This is an area of shallow sea grass that becomes visible at low tide and is home to an array of marine life. I was warned to wear shoes as the sea grass beds are teeming with lionfish - very dangerous. Nick, who grew up on the island, told me that they’re an invasive species, originally from the Indo-Pacific. The reason they’re so dangerous to fish in these waters is that some of the fish don’t actually recognise them as predators and there’s nothing around that predates them.

 

P1000172.jpg

Above: Beautiful, but beware of lionfish...

 

During our beach bioblitz we found anemones, sea squirts, conch shells, sea urchins…and 2 lionfish!

 

leigh.jpg

Above: Leigh is beaming after finding her first conch!

 

The good news is that the weather is improving so we're going on the boat tomorrow! Hopefully we’ll find the whale bones and some Osedax!

0
Tony-Vinhas.jpg

 

What do you do at the Museum?

I'm a Media Technician supporting Nature Live and other learning programmes.

 

What’s the best bit about your job?

I’m lucky, my job is pretty diverse. One minute I’m fixing the interactive exhibitions in the Museum’s galleries and the next I’m doing a Nature Live with video-links to NASA. I’m constantly researching all the coolest gadgets and trying to integrate them into our live events. I get to work with computers, cameras, video editing, special effects and sound.

 

What are you most excited about seeing on the trip?

Amazing HD footage of marine life - techno geek I know! But my favourite thing about this trip specifically is being able to reach out to Museum visitors and helping them engage with the science that goes on here.

 

Is anything worrying you about the trip?

I’m worried about getting sand in the technical equipment. Oh and sun burn.

0

I am writing this blog while chomping on a delicious, freshly-fried pork scratching! Amazing.

 

Day 11 PIC 1.jpg

(Click images to see them full size)

 

Today we did a live-video-link to the Museum's Attenborough Studio (our last two will be at 12.30 and 14.30 on Saturday 18 Feb) from the middle of a river near our hut – Rio Terbi. Perched on top of a rock we spoke to an audience in London about our trip and answered their questions about our time here.

 

Day 11 PIC 2.JPG

 

One young member of the audience asked about the weight of an acorn we held to camera – we actually don't have any scales so we can't tell for certain, but we estimate it as being about 4 to 5 times bigger than your average UK acorn. Sorry we can't be more accurate!

 

The river is the lifeblood of the forest and our hut - we get our water supply directly from it and use it to cook, wash and drink.

 

Day 11 PIC 3.JPG

 

Today we waked for about an hour to a site downstream and by the river.

 

Day 11 PIC 4.JPG

 

Holger showed me how he collects aquatic lichens...

 

 

And Alex, Daniel and Neil set up beside the river and went about collecting a huge amount of different plants.

 

Day 11 PIC 5.jpg

Day 11 PIC 6.JPG

 

I have been promoted from simply being a weight to hold down specimens to pressing plants and collecting samples for DNA. I also came in useful for a particularly high orchid. We have poles that we normally use to cut specimens that are out of arms reach but we thought this was quicker and more fun. It's nice to know that I am helping out!

 

Day 11 PIC 7.jpg

 

Species of the day goes to Jo and it is a carnivorous liverwort! It's in the genus Colura and lives on leaves.

 

Day 11 PIC 8.jpg

Day 11 PIC 9.jpg

 

It’s lobes form water sacs, which could be an adaptation to retain moisture, and people have found tiny microscopic creatures called nematodes in these water sacs. It has been suggested that the liverwort dissolves theses tiny creatures and eats them! As Jo says, when you live on only a leaf, every little helps. She also says that up close they look like tiny teapots which made Holger laugh – 'so British', he exclaimed!

 

I can't get close enough to see if I agree with the teapot analogy - have a search for Colura and tell me what you think!

 

Until tomorrow

2

Last night, we arrived back at the hut just before dark and ate a dinner of soup (chicken) and rice (sin bean). Over dinner we learnt that, in our absence, Holger and Jo had a productive time (more on that below) and it was nice to be all back together again.

 

Today I stayed at the hut (checking everything was working for our next live-video-link back to the Museum which will be happening just as this is published) so I had the chance to chat to one of the porters assisting our trip.

 

Day 10 PIC 1.JPG

(From left to right) Leandro Vargas Astavia and Greyner Vargas Astavia
Daniel Lezcano Arguello and Carlos Godinez Cardenas

 

Daniel Lezcano Arguello started off by apologising for laughing at my new nickname - which has morphed from Yeti via Crouchy (as in Peter, the lanky, robot-dancing footballer) to Pie-Grande. I pointed out that Yeti and Pie-Grande are absolutely fine but Crouchy has most definitely got to go - I am an Arsenal FC fan!

 

He told me about his life when he is not working as a guide or porter. He is a farmer and has 5 hectares near the entrance to Amistad National Park where he grows coffee and bananas and keeps pigs and cows. The coffee he sells to a large Costa Rican company although he keeps a bit back for personal use as he prefers to know what is in his morning cuppa. The bananas are used to feed the cows and pigs.

 

The cows are for milk and he makes cheese, and the pigs are for meat. He also grows some vegetables and we swapped allotment stories although he seemed pretty unconvinced it was possible to grow anything in British temperatures.

 

He said he is typical of the porters in that they all farm when not guiding people through the park. This trip (like most field work, I imagine) would be impossible without the help of the porters.

 

They prepare trails and camps and ferry specimens and food to and from the field, and they carry extraordinary amounts and move incredibly quickly through the forest. This is the head porter and our guide Carlos.

 

Day 10 PIC 2.jpg

Head porter Carlos making his work look easy while I struggle to keep up (hence the blurry photo!)

 

He is carrying a backpack, a few litres of water, camping equipment for 4 and - if that wasn’t enough already - a shovel.

 

Day 10 PIC 3.jpg

Leandro taking a breather

 

I am in awe of their strength and athletic ability at this altitude and their commitment to our trip. They have an invaluable knowledge of the forest and are key in helping us find interesting sites and species. Also, they are vital for the conservation of the park so we are doubly thankful for what they do.

 

Species of the day today goes to Holger - the result of 2 hours hard work, blood, sweat and tears!

 

Day 10 PIC 4.JPG

 

Holger found three different stream lichens with a high likelihood that they may be new for Costa Rica and maybe even new to science.

 

Day 10 PIC 5.JPG

 

 

This lichen is a representative of the family Lichinacae and fresh water species of this family are commonly found in Nordic countries.

 

Day 10 PIC 6.JPG

 

Day 10 PIC 7.JPG

 

Holger didn’t expect to find something like this here and all of the lichens Holger has found reflect a climate far, far colder than would have been expected - something we can vouch for during the long cold nights!

 

This is why lichens are so important in that that they tell us so much about our environment. Sadly, no video today – I hope to get back to business tomorrow.

 

(Just a quick reminder that Alex is also writing his own blog about our trip and you can read it here and that our next live-video-links with the Museum are at 12.30 and 14.30 on Saturday 18 February)

0

On (our) Sunday morning we did the first Field work with Nature Live events, featuring live-video-links direct to the Museum from Costa Rica. In fact it was the first ever live-link at the Museum using a satellite phone from the field.

 

Tom, the Nature Live host who is accompanying us on our trip (see his own blog), was really nervous despite having spent the last three days getting every last detail right. He had woken up during the night worrying about it, although you wouldn’t have known once everything got going.

 

It was early for us, 6.30 am and bitterly cold (4°C according to the slightly dodgy looking thermometer in the hut) but the shows went well; it was really strange hearing the familiar voices of our colleagues Lee, Jo and Erica back in London in the Museum’s Attenborough Studio whilst we were huddled with a cup of coffee on the veranda of a hut in Costa Rica and desperately trying to keep warm.

 

I’m not sure what the audience made of us: by chance we had the Costa Rican park ranger responsible for this part of the park, Fabricio Carbonal, staying and it meant that he was able to make a surprise appearance.

 

pic-1.jpg

Tom positioning the satellite phone for our video-link on a boulder in the river to
test the location for our next Nature Live event on Thursday 16 February.

 

After the two Field work with Nature Live events, we sneaked an extra cup of coffee and went to the day's collecting site, a recently discovered ‘lake.’ Well, more of a large pond in the middle of the forest.

 

Day-5-Pic-2.jpg

The ‘Laguna’

 

To be honest, in terms of vascular plants it was a bit boring. We collected only 43 species, but for mosses and lichens it was much more rewarding with lichenologist Holger Thues getting very excited by a myxomycetes (or true slime mould) which he discovered forming fruiting bodies on a liverwort.

 

pic-2.jpg

The myxomycete that so excited Holger

 

 

 

Come and see Tom and me at the next Field work with Nature Live events held at 12.30 and 14.30 at the Museum on Thursday 16 February or Saturday 18 February.