Several packed days into this Newfoundland adventure, our team has already experienced a range of successes and emotions, from abject failure to thrilling triumph. Below are some tidbits and highlights from the trip so far!
The All-star Crew:
Jenna Kosmo: Rising junior, StreamTeam dream teen, nurturer of baby stickleback, cat lover, Disney savant
Jason Moreira: Rising senior, stickleback whisperer, “the great stomach,” Nickleback lover
Melissa Graham: Clark PhD student, avid birder, Oreo groupie, Celine Dion expert
Eric Shultz: Professor at University of Connecticut, stickleback enthusiast, friend of the blog, student of the world
Emma O’Melia [myself]: Rising junior, amateur photojournalist, historian, professionally curious, Amy Grant wannabe
Day 1: The crew sleepily rolled off our ferry onto the island of Newfoundland at 6:30 a.m. Friday morning. A stop at Tim Horton’s for coffee and nibbles before we headed down the Trans Canada Highway to the home of our host, Dr. Bob Scott [a former Ph.D. recipient of Clark and current director of the Bonne Bay Marine Station].
After dropping off some things at Bob’s, and figuring out that it would be most efficient to transport our gear with the trunk of the car closed, we headed to our first lakes to observe and set traps. We were delighted to find that our exploratory trip to search for our favorite fish would not be in vain; stickleback, in all their glory, do indeed live here, and in many different environments! What a relief.
Day 2: Saturday was a grey day, brightened drastically by a Disney sing-along in the car. The highlight of the day was a spot called Cook’s Brook. Not only did we find hundreds of stickleback, but Bob’s daughters joined us. The girls were so heartwarming to watch; once we told them a little bit about stickleback, they were eager to stomp through the brook to find the fish themselves. They had a great eye for the spotting them in the rolling waters, certainly better than I do. It’s always fulfilling to share your interests with someone, but children do not pretend their interest nearly as often as most adults. It was touching to see them take on a fascination for observation in such a short period of time. It may help that their dad has instilled a sense of adventure and appreciation of nature in them, but their genuine curiosity was my favorite part of the day.
Day 3: Sunday was even greyer! We used our seine in some terrible weather at Blue Pond and Pinchgut Lake.
A seine (rhymes with “rain”) is a long, rectangular net that is dragged through the water to pick up fish. It covers a larger area than a trap would, and our seine was craftily tied to hockey sticks [donated by Bob] to make seining easier. Once you’ve covered a certain area, you pull the seine out of the water, pick out any fish of interest, and throw the rest right back into the water.
We drove further down the coast* to our home for the next week, the Bonne (pronounced like “bone’”) Bay Marine Station. We finished our day by setting traps at 4 spots in varying amounts of rain, grilled, and snuggled up for a research party. I love that this is group of people with whom I can hop into a lake, barbeque, sing embarrassing songs, then sit around discussing trimorphic plating of stickleback. The promise of sunny days and more discovered fish lies ahead!
*Newfoundland fact: “Down the coast” actually refers to travelling north, and “up the coast” refers to going south; the currents off the west coast of the island that flow from north to south birthed these terms that are handy for confusing tourists.