Grab the wet bag, wetsuit, booties, snorkel and mask, because we’re getting in the water! This week during my outing on the research boat at Elkhorn Slough, not only did we do our usual crab trap measurements, but we also needed to move the YSI’s Kat had put out. A YSI is an instrument that samples and monitors water quality. These YSI are part of the crab trapping experiment to determine why certain crabs may be found in some areas, but not others. The YSI are tied tightly to crates and stuck into the ground with rebar and PVC pipes, so that there is as little movement as possible to keep the data consistent. In order to move these we needed to get to the floor of the slough, which is about 10 feet down, which meant that a few of us needed to jump in. The visibility of the water was not bad and not the best, but we got to see the beautiful seagrass plots that Kat (along with others) had planted one to three years ago. It is nice to see the seagrass doing so well, since it is such a huge part of the slough ecosystem! We saw exquisite nudibranchs (that were munching away on the algae that grows on the seagrass), and measured many staghorns as well as lots of different crab species.
I even got a nice picture of the ooze that sea hares excrete as a self defense mechanism – this purple, thick ooze that covered the boat.
As we boated around the slough, we saw tons of shorebirds coming back from their migration up north. As I am the birder on the boat, I got to answer many of the questions my peers had about the shorebirds. I also was able to get back to practicing my shorebird ID and counting!