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Bermuda Field Course 2012 :: Daily Report

Day 03 | Saturday, March 10, 2012
A day of my dreams!

Today was a very exciting day for all of us. After a nice breakfast at BIOS we gathered our gear (or our “kit” as our new Southampton colleagues refer to it) and hiked to our snorkel site. The path led us along an old railroad path that provided wonderful views of the western Bermudian coastline and the expansive Atlantic.
            Upon arriving at Whalebone Bay on the western side of the island, we donned our gear, buddied up, and headed out for our first snorkeling experience in Bermuda. Many students enjoyed exploring as much of the bay and as many species as possible. I, however, took a different approach.
            One must first understand that I have an outlandishly strong interest in octopus behavior. Despite my passion, I have never seen an octopus in the wild. It was my primary goal, therefore, to find an octopus during my time at Bermuda. I’m very grateful for each of my classmates and professors who have energetically joined me in my expedition! During our snorkeling trip, my buddy and I carefully examined the cracks, crevices, and crannies of the coral bottom in our search of these elusive octopuses (but Matt, don’t you mean “octopi”?! Well, as an educational side note: After about a half-hour of searching we found an octopus foraging across the reef! It soon gained a rather good following of both Southampton and UNCW students. While all of us enjoyed watching its foraging and camouflage behaviors, I was ecstatic to say the least! Reflecting back on the moment personally, I really enjoyed explaining to my cohorts what I could about its behavior (something to consider as I pursue professorship). Only after it had returned to its den could I leave the octopus; and only for a call from our Southampton friends of four squid they had found.
            Once the exposure to the chilled water had taken its toll, we returned to land as happy snorkelers (I for one could not refrain from dancing on the spot). We returned to BIOS to clean up and enjoy a hot supper. In the evening, we engaged in a lecture to prepare us for the data collection for the week ahead. We are learning to consider not merely logistics of an experimental design, but statistical power and applicability to well defined null hypotheses. I am very grateful to be experiencing this training for what is typically reserved to graduate students.
            Now I am off to sleep to rest for our day of plankton surveys tomorrow!

- Matthew Birk

ink! we must be getting close...
Ink! We must be getting close...

first octopus
First octopus!

octopus resting
Octopus resting

matt + whitney, whalebone bay
Matt and Whitney at Whalebone Bay

Octopus in action!

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