05-30-2017

10:05 PM
We're coming into the home stretch. The focus of the course has turned to our own research projects. I've partnered with Melissa Cobo, working on a study on microplastics (small plastic fragments of less than 5 mm) in ocean sediment. Plastic in the ocean is a major problem because creatures eat it and it gets stuck in their bodies because it doesn't degrade, so we'll be examining whether wave action washes up enough plastic onto the beach to be worth collecting.

Aside from that, the day's been pretty slow. A few of us went out to the jetty at sunset, where Edd, one of our instructors, and a student we call Camp slipped into the water. Edd posted me up on the dock to keep an eye on a black-tip reef shark he'd spotted. But I wasn't supposed to warn them away, my task was to guide them to it. Black-tips are not particularly dangerous, and it would make great footage. Unfortunately, the black-tip was swift and agile in the water, while Edd and Camp were... not. We spent half an hour chasing the shark around the bay, with me bellowing directions across to them while the shark slipped past faster than they could react. They never got close, but I did get many pictures of a spectacular sunset, including a picture of a seagull against the sunset which prompted Edd to suggest a photo series entitled "Crap Animals Looking Majestic." We ended the day by watching an episode of Planet Earth.

Tomorrow we start working on our project in earnest. This will involve sifting through sediment samples for plastic for 40 minutes per sample. We'll take 20 samples, so we're looking at 13 hours, 20 minutes of staring at sediment... Yeah, I'm hoping we can figure a better way.
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