Sunday, July 24, 2011

Coring, Boluses, and Wind

Jack and I spent three days drilling on the southeast reef rim to collect short cores.  Back in Santa Cruz, Don and others will use isotopic, x-ray, and other techniques to determine which organisms are creating the reef and the rate at which it is growing or eroding.  We used three half days and three fills of 8 tanks to collect three 10 cm vertical cores.  Jack also engineered a way to fill the holes with concrete, which was great because Anne and I would have had no idea how to combine cement and sand and our permit says we’re supposed to do that.  Coring is an important project to Don, but Anne and I have very little experience using the drill, so we were really glad Jack could figure it all out and explain it to us and help us do it!

Jack and I also spent about 20 hours discussing our SCWIBLES ideas and modules.  I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that SCWIBLES is a UCSC-Watsonville High School program in which science grad students work with high school teachers to create and use science inquiry modules.  It’s funded by the National Science Foundation GK-12 program.  I have a fellowship for the next year and am really looking forward to starting work at Watsonville High in the fall. 

We decided to create an inquiry module using the albatross boluses (regurgitated undigested material like owl pellets) to teach Jack’s Integrated Science students about food chains and how plastics impact the ocean’s inhabitants.  I’m really excited about this project because, even though it doesn’t use my own research, it uses my experiences and photos from Midway and my observations of a very important species at Midway.

Things have slowed down now because Jack headed back to California, Anne has been having neck problems and her heavy medications are making her ill and unable to go on the boat or in the water, and it’s been very windy and rough.  I’ve had lots of time to clean and organize and plan and relax.  I’m looking forward to getting back to work and back in the water! 

The albatross fledglings are very excited about the wind because it makes it easier to fly and their parents have been coming back to feed much more in the last few days.  However, the island is now nearly empty of albatrosses.  There are probably still hundreds, but there used to be tens of thousands!


Barb said...

Hi Kristin -- Terrific that you're gonna be working with high school students! C-MORE (, which includes MBARI, has developed some nifty marine science kits, one of which is on marine debris & boluses. All the kits are available free, on loan through online reservations --> ...and you could borrow from MBARI.
aloha, Barb

Kristin said...

Hi, Barb -

Thanks for letting me know about that. I looked up bolus lesson plans online and found several, but this one may be better organized. We'll see if the internet here will cooperate with downloading their lesson plan! Definitely seems like a great resource!