Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Friday, December 21, 2012
We're down in Asheville, North Carolina, visiting with family. This morning, Amanda is reading a book on Kenya to our nephew's class.
It is amazing everyone is sitting so quietly...listening...given that each child just ate 2 sugar frosted sugar cookies.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
When shipping water samples, it's best to wrap the lids with electrical tape to ensure nothing accidentally opens en route. Of course, you could do this on each bottle as you take the sample, or you could wait and then have to tape them all the night before you fly out. With a bottle of wine and a good tv show, we got through them pretty quickly. Now all our samples are ready to ship, and our import/export permits are in place. Almost ready to go...
Oxygen is measured in its dissolved form as dissolved oxygen (DO). If more oxygen is consumed than is produced, dissolved oxygen levels decline and some sensitive animals may move away, weaken, or die.
DO levels fluctuate seasonally and over a 24-hour period. They vary with water temperature and altitude. Cold water holds more oxygen than warm water (Table 5.3) and water holds less oxygen at higher altitudes. Thermal discharges, such as water used to cool machinery in a manufacturing plant or a power plant, raise the temperature of water and lower its oxygen content. Aquatic animals are most vulnerable to lowered DO levels in the early morning on hot summer days when stream flows are low, water temperatures are high, and aquatic plants have not been producing oxygen since sunset.- http://water.epa.gov/type/rsl/monitoring/vms52.cfm
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
- Now that we have live cameras posted on a hippo pool and trail in the Mara, we will be continuing to share real-time photos of the Mara River and talk about how we are using that data to better understand hippo behavior and how it may impact the river.
- We also have amazing real-time water quality and discharge data from the river, so even though we’ll be on the other side of the world, we’ll know what’s happening in the river at any point in time. For example, over coffee this morning in Nairobi, Chris and I watched as the river rose and turbidity levels climbed for the second time in less than 24 hours. We have spent many mornings sitting at Maji Camp, just a few kilometers from the river, wondering how the night’s rain had affected the river, but not knowing until we traveled an hour to download data from our meter. We’ll be sharing this data as it happens and talking about what it means.
- Much of what we've done over our last six months in the Mara was collect samples—aquatic macroinvertebrates, water, sediments, plants, hippo poop, more water… now comes the analysis of all those samples. Although lab analysis is generally less fun that field collection, we’ll be getting a ton of cool data over the next few months that we’re really excited about. You can expect to hear both about the daily grind of lab work – the less exotic but equally critical side of field research – and some of the cool things we are learning.
- By reading newspapers online, checking our favorite blogs and websites and catching up with friends in Kenya, we’ll continue to stay informed about goings-on in Kenya and the Mara even during our absence. For example, there’s a huge election in Kenya on March 4 that will not only decide the new President, but also many new offices created by the new Constitution that was just passed last year. There’s a lot of excitement and apprehension about this election, and we’ll be following the news closely.
- Despite our best efforts at keeping up with the blog, there are still a lot of great pictures and stories we’re looking forward to sharing from our past six months in the field. We have pictures measuring carcass decay rate, game trails at night, go pro video of a hot air balloon flight over the river and more that we look forward to finally getting posted.
- Anything else? If there are any other kinds of pictures or information you would like us to share or post more about, leave a comment and let us know!
Monday, December 10, 2012
1) Finish collecting and processing your final samples. No doubt, something really interesting will happen just as you are about to leave the field, thus requiring you to collect and process many more "final" samples than you anticipate.
2) Run last experiments. There is probably a really important experiment (or two) you have put off until the bitter end, hoping that you will gain some more clarity and insight on how to approach it as time passes. You should probably go ahead and do this now.
3) Cook all the really nice food items you purchased and stashed away during your time here. Gain back all the weight you lost during your field season.
4) Deploy field equipment to capture data and images from the river during your absence. Reflect upon the game camera that already went missing this year after a couple day deployment. Get metal re-bar housings welded.
5) Wash all the sampling equipment you used this year before storing it. Yes, this includes the two boxes of dirty sampling bottles that have been waiting in the corner.
6) Inventory all the equipment and supplies remaining from this year so you know what to bring for next year. This will help you avoid ending up with way too much sodium hydroxide but no sample vials.
7) Pack all your samples and anything you might need in the US for the next six months. Realize that water is incredibly heavy when 300 bottles of it are packed into one box.
8) Pack everything else securely into the tents. Remember that this season you have had a new tarp ripped in half by a giraffe and two jerricans destroyed by lions. Add extra ropes.
9) Drop by to say goodbye to all the friends who have helped you out during your time here. A field project is an effort of many, and you can't get by without help from friends.
10) Remember to stand outside your tent for a minute before you go to bed and be grateful for getting to live in this place. Listen to the distant rush of the river and the gentle grunting of hippos and give thanks.
This year, we have lost 3 depth loggers, 1 barometric pressure logger, 1 uplinked game camera, about 30 litterbags, and countless ceramic tiles. Fortunately, we lost almost all of these to natural forces, as I would rather lose 3 depth loggers to a highly dynamic river than have one stolen by someone-- the latter is much harder on the spirit. However, it was a tough season for equipment, and it dealt blows to both our morale and budget. So what do we do in response? Deploy more, of course… there’s still really cool stuff to measure out there. But this time add some extra chains, custom-welded housings, several padlocks, and a few zip ties for good measure.
|Reinforced game camera on the river|
Sunday, December 9, 2012
|Geemi reading DO on a sample|
|Chris and Amanda filtering samples|
We joke that our friend, Paul Geemi, is part of the Maji Reserve Corp....who we call when we need help (maji means "water" in Swahili). Well, at the end of a long, tough field season, we have called him up to help us finish all our ambitious plans before we depart for a few months.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Friday, December 7, 2012
We had the cases welded in Narok. We wired them with batteries and solar panels using spare parts we had at camp. They have been reinforced with epoxy, chain and locks to deter curious animals (hyenas and baboons) and others.
We'll be deploying them soon to monitor a hippo pool and provide us with a live feed
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Monday, December 3, 2012
Saturday, December 1, 2012
|Holding a fish trap that is lined with hippo poop after being in the river for a while|
|Frank pulling a fish trap|
|A tilapia caught in the Mara|
Friday, November 30, 2012
|Checking out our catch|
|Frank examining the net for bugs|
|Picking bugs out of the net|
Here are some mayflies we caught from the family Beatidae. Mayflies, in the order Ephemeroptera, are fairly sensitive to water quality. Baetidae are collector-gatherers that feed on plant detritus in the river. This is probably the most common family we catch, although there are many different species included in the family. In this picture, there are two different species of the same family.
Here are some mayflies we caught from the family Tricorythidae, which are also collector-gatherers.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
|Carcass meat hanging off my experiment|
|Measuring biofilm activity on carcasses|
|Mayfly larvae on a wildebeest carcass|
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Still at the garage. I've clocked in about 20 hours here over the last 2 and 1/2 days. Still trying to find the source of the rumbling noise. Replaced and inspected countless parts and still can't find it. Now we're back to the transfer case. Time to open it up...again. But...we can't till the rain stops.
|Wildebeest bones in the Mara|
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
We wanted to thank the team of builders and engineers who are helping install the equipment at the bridge for our water meter, as well as all the Mara Conservancy rangers and staff who help us with our work all the time, so the night before Thanksgiving, we had a traditional Kenyan goat roast with them. We bought a large goat from one of our friends, packed him up in the Land Rover and drove down to the bridge.
|Goat in the Land Rover - awesome!|
|Cooking goat over the fire|
|At camp with Warden Konchella|
|Celebrating with friends|
|Dinner table panorama|