Sunday, October 30, 2011

ARMSed and Ready

Hey, remember all that time when I wasn't posting?  One of the things we were doing was survey dives in the Gulf off Cedar Key and Steinhatchee looking for suitable habitat to deploy some ARMS.  (You might remember ARMS from this post).  This is a continuation of the survey work we did on the R/V Weatherbird back in March (remember this or that or this other post), but the water was much warmer this time, approaching 90 degrees!  We were looking for hard-bottom areas, which turned out to be rarer than we might have anticipated.  Most of Gustav's quick peeks at the bottom revealed long stretches of sand, but a few times we found what we were looking for and went down to do a more extensive survey of the area.  These areas had lots of sponges and Caulerpa algae

and lots and lots of tunicates of various types

So now that we'd found some potential sites to set up some ARMS, where were we going to get them?  Thank goodness for Woody at the Smithsonian Research Station in Ft. Peirce.  They had some old disassembled ARMS that they were willing to let us use, and Woody even put them together for us (except for the base for ease of transport).  So what do 27 ARMS look like after they've been driven back to Gainesville and piled on a cart?
It sure would be foolish for one person to put 367 pounds of metal and pvc all together on a cart and then expect to move that cart over a non-flat surface...unless that person were a glutton for punishment, or placed well in an arm-wrestling competition, or both.

So now we have (some of) the monitoring locations, and we have the ARMS.  The boat is repaired, now all we need is Gustav.  He's making an appearance in November so we can go install them:  3 per site, 3 sites per location, 3 locations.  He'll only be around for a few days so we're sure to be busy.

All this talk of ARMS reminds me of someone else


Dickinson Hall has a new mascot.  In order to ward of the bad mojo that can follow from naming the animals in the aquarium, we call her The Octopus.  The picture above was taken when she was actually much younger (and smaller) and had not yet eaten all her non-echinoderm, non-cnidarian rommates.  Now she's much bigger and growing progressively more clever.  We often feed her live clams inside a jar with the lid on which is inside a large hamster ball with the lid on.  After opening up all the contraptions to get to her food, she sometimes sits inside the ball to eat.  We don't know what species she is, but we've recruited Julie to slip a little octopus tissue (from a tentacle shed) into her queue of tissues for DNA extraction.  I'll keep you posted.

With the return of diving I should have some more field pictures to post before too long.  In the interim John and I will be busy getting the collection in order:  labels, put-away, loans, incoming collections.  Gustav's current prime directive is to get things organized to make room for more specimens.  And don't worry, even though we still have ARMS installation and retreival posts in our future, I won't run out of puns for the post titles.

:) Mandy

1 comment:

FoxTrot said...

Does your guy know this?