Polychaete research in the Falklands by Teresa Darbyshire - Day 5
So did you guess which one I went for. Yes it was the early one which involved getting up at 4am. Sounds bonkers I know but there was some method in the madness not least of which was that it was still early enough to go back to bed once I finished for a couple more hours sleep!
To the east of Stanley but on the outward facing coast is Surf Bay. As its name suggests it is an exposed beach and is also made up of fantastically white sand looking very tropical in the bright sunshine the first time I saw it (photo 1). Sadly it didn’t quite look like that at 4am with a bit of mist and grey sky, but at least the wind had dropped for now which it always seems to first thing in the morning here.
The sand is very fine and to be honest did not look like the kind of habitat you normally find much in the way of worms in. However I wanted to try sieving a bit of it to see if there were any of the tiny species that sometimes inhabit such areas. For this reason I only needed a short time around low tide to try this as I could always come back if necessary. After this I moved across the headland to the even more exposed rocky side with low rock pools and mostly bare rock. The rocks here are covered in a pink encrusting alga similar to that you may have seen in the UK. This also sometimes harbours its own fauna under the crust so I took a small rock covered in that away too to see what it might hold.
After catching up on some sleep I took my small collection to the lab. As suspected the pale sand held nothing in store for me except some very active amphipods and isopods (small crustacea). Glad I hadn’t wasted good collecting time there! The rock however turned out more interesting. The pink crust was so tightly fixed to the rock that there were no animals under the small pieces I managed to chip off. However the small pieces of seaweed that had been attached yielded several small worms new to my list from their holdfasts. These were interesting enough that I will go back to this site on Monday to get some more rocks to play with (at a more sociable time as well).
My other reason for choosing the early tide was the fact that I am being dragged off this evening to visit the King Penguin colony over at Volunteer Point. One small drawback to this is the fact I have to camp. Not that I am averse to such activity but I normally choose warmer weather, the offer of a wetsuit to join in some body boarding may also require some inventive excuses. Do surfers need shore cover? I think they do and I may sacrifice my enjoyment to provide it. The weather has now also deteriorated, probably due to the impending camping event, and it's raining combined with a howling gale force wind (photo 2). Just like camping in the UK really. I am of course also taking some sampling gear with me just so no opportunity will be missed!