Polychaete research in the Falklands by Teresa Darbyshire - Day 8
This morning’s work was based back at the rock pool site I visited on Friday morning. It was a tad chilly first thing and the cold water rapidly sapped all feeling from my hands. I wanted to have another look at the encrusting algae (photo photo 1) that I had failed to do anything with on Friday and to that end I had taken along my trusty dive knife. This made pretty short work of chipping away and prising up chunks of the hard stuff and as hoped I found treasure beneath. Ok, not treasure but there were some worms and that would have to do. I happily splashed around the rock pool for a while variably slicing off bits of algae and digging in the gravel under stones until low tide had passed, I felt I had made a decent effort to collect everything available and my hands had stopped working entirely. I made my way back to the Fisheries department just in time to avoid the torrential rain that suddenly appeared.
Today’s highlighted worm is Boccardia (photo 2 - sorry no common name). This is what mostly lived in that encrusting algae, burrowing through the crevices. I was also pleased to get some more of a species of ragworm that was originally described from these islands. I’ve been able to identify it by the pattern of teeth that are found around the jaws (photo 3). It’s good to have examples of animals from the same place they were originally described as you can be sure then that you are looking at the same species that was used to write the original description. Important if you feel the need to change the description or the name (an annoying habit of taxonomists!).
I had also decided that tomorrow’s adventure would be to leave the Stanley area and try and sample some interesting looking spots a bit further away. Unfortunately it was pointed out to me that most of the Islands are split into privately owned lands that include the foreshore. I therefore spent a couple of hours this afternoon tracking down the land owners names, then their phone numbers and finally tried phoning to ask permission to collect. The permissions were freely given once I managed to get an answer although the people did sound a little bemused at the request. So that is my day tomorrow, the challenges being to a) find my way to where I want to go (there aren’t many roads and even fewer road signs) b) find my way back (possibly not as straight forward as it may sound).
I have refuelled the landrover at the only petrol station on the island at the princely sum of 72p per litre for diesel. Wish me luck.
As I write this I can hear hail being lashed against the window by the wind. It sounds more like a UK November night than the kind, if blowy weather I’ve had up to now. So for anyone irritated by my constant mentions of bright sunshine you can feel a bit happier, hopefully only briefly though.