Sunday, September 1, 2013

Charismatic Megafauna

I've completed the first week of school. It was a whirlwind, full of homework and syllabi and feelings of "where am I again?" I've been lucky enough, in some ways, to start school with a large apartment with no roommates, so I've been able to have privacy and quiet, which I was initially worried about having. The area where I live, somewhat off-campus, is also extremely quiet. However, this does put a damper on meeting people or making friends since i'm off in the wilderless of East Campus.

In spite of this, I decided that I would make the most of my time this long weekend by completing homework, relaxing and then...going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I should have gone Saturday, in terms of the transit system time budgeting, but I went instead on Sunday and paid for a membership (yay!). It saved me from the insanely long lines that persisted throughout the day - I couldn't imagine standing in that line in the heat today - and allowed me to enter at the membership door.

I got a free totebag and a coupon for 20% off at the gift shop (which i'm going to save for when I want something nice or for xmas presents). (I guess you get an automatic 10% off as a member.) I saw WAY too many things I wanted, but as I'm on a budget, I had to settle for a great tea light lantern thing with a lobster on it for $6 and a Mac's Field Guide to California Coastal Invertebrates -- and some postcards for family and my former library coworkers.  (A mola, cuttlefish and a ctenophore, respectively)

This brings me to my topic, in a roundabout way. I love aquariums. I thrive when I visit an aquarium. I see and learn a lot of new things: today I observed a decorator crab using a pretatory chiton as a 'farm'. For me, this was both hilarious and interesting. It made me ask questions, like: does the chiton tolerate this, or is he rising up  (as they do when waiting for prey) thinking that he'll scare away the annoying guy standing on him? Is this an aquarium-only behavior - something the decorator crab learned was a great way to find food since the chiton had quite a bit of algae growing on his, or was this something that is done in their normal environment?  I feel like I constantly have questions that, more often than not, I can't find answers to.

Maybe that's the curse of the curious person? Or maybe I'm not looking hard enough. It's frustrating because I don't have the skills, yet, to start doing legit research -- or the funding, for that matter! Soon, soon.

My course-load this semester isn't very heavy, but there's still a lot of learning I'll be doing: I'm taking Statistics for Sci Tech, Environmental Economics and Management, Cell & Molecular Biology, The Oceans, and The Atmosphere. I've been in school for 3 years so far, so I guess I'm getting antsy. I want to learn the BIG STUFF, but I know that I've gotta master the LITTLE STUFF.

So, this week, I learned about pipetting with Pipetman devices; I learned about the laters of the atmosphere; I learned about amino acids and their structure and function; I learned how to start programming in R; and I learned a little bit about fisheries management. It's definitely a start. I just have to learn how to be more patient, right?

Sorry if this was rambling - but I get so excited when thinking about everything I need and want to do.

What's really funny is that I never really talk about charismatic megafauna -- pretty much all i wanted to say was that I wish we, as people, found other things, like crabs and lobsters and chitons and sea urchins, just as awesome and inspiring as those...mammals. :)

That being said: here's a few of my favorite photos from today's outing.