Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Project Preperation

We are working hard getting everything ready for the upcoming field season, at least when there is work to be done.  Most of it is logistical and requires lots of time to process. Its all very bureaucratic and a field assistant such as myself cannot really help with that side of things.  Filling out the paperwork doesn't really get my heart racing anyways.  The Scuba class is still moving along at a steady pace.  Lets call it a slow trot.  We should be wrapping it up quite soon and then I am officially a certified research Diver.

My comfortable housing in one corner of the lab at FIU.

I was assigned a literature review project.  Now that probably sounds more like a homework assignment than field work and in truth it is but after being away from an academic setting for almost a year I am actually quite happy to be back reading scientific papers.  My brain has felt a bit atrophied and its nice to get the nerves firing again.  My specific goal is to determine the effects of water temperature on sea turtle dive times.  At the same time I am learning a lot of background knowledge about sea turtles.  For instance Loggerhead Turtles are omnivorous and feed mainly on invertebrates while Green Sea Turtles are herbivorous and feed on sea grasses.  These two turtles will be the focus of our research in Shark Bay.

A much more exciting project that I have also been a part of is designing and assembling makeshift critter cams.  First the body is carved out of some high density syntactic foam. The carving and shaping is my favorite part.  It must be carved so that each piece fits and the entire package still maintains a specific balance between weighting and buoyancy. Then we set in and epoxy down the various elements required to record depth, temperature, time, and video.  A large part of my job will be to catch the turtles so that we can attach homemade critter cams to them and see life from a turtle eye view.  There are a few good videos of exactly that on the Shark Bay Ecosystem Research Project website.  Check it out!  The man who's lab I am working for, Dr. Michael Heithaus, was the host of National Geographic's Crittercam series.  He is quite a remarkable person. He is the type of guy that could be described as the Michael Jordan of underwater research.

I wanna be like Mike.

A crittercam prototype without the camera attachment.  Ill post pictures of the real deal when i get to Australia.

The GoPro camera that we will be using on the turtles.


  1. Nice Apartment, not everybody has home with an eye wash station and a refrigerator with petri dishes

    The crittercams are cool, ive seen the natgeo show

  2. Living under the storage racks. Classic