Thursday, May 25, 2006

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Collection day!

Ah, science! Yesterday was copepod collection day, which is my favorite part of my new job. I have gone out on the boat three times since I've been here, and this was the best trip by far. Why was it so great, you ask? Well, this was no ordinary collection day. No, this time, everyone got to come out to see how to gather the little guys. The crew included our fearless copepod collecting veteran, Kyle (a grad student, not Dr. H), Anna, our German banana, Jenn, our summer undergrad, and me. We met at 8am sharp, and drove over the Pali to Kaneohe Bay, which is on the Windward side of the island. Kaneohe Bay is home to numerous copepod species as well as other zooplankton, and our mission was to find a particular type, the Undinula. The bay is huge, but we were meeting our boat captain, Fritz, at the end of the Hawaii Institute for Marine Biology (HIMB) pier. The boats leaving from the pier are the only way to get to Coconut Island, the home of HIMB. The picture above shows the pier that I drive my car across to meet Fritz (it is terrifying) and the tip of Coconut on the right.

We loaded up the gear, and we were off on our adventure. Our first plankton tow in 45' of water somewhere north of the sandbar. Let me back up a step: to catch the copepods, we drop nets with cod ends into the water and tow them behind the boat as we slowly move forward at about 2mph. Any plankton that happens to get drawn into the net will siphon down into the cod end and get trapped for us to collect. Here is a picture of our first catch (from L to R: Jenn, Fritz, Kyle, Anna):

Inside that little glass jar (the cod end) are thousands upon thousands of tiny invertebrates: shrimp larva, crab larva, copepods, baby squid, arrow worms, jellyfish, you name it, we found it! We did a total of 6 tows and I ended up getting soaking wet, since our 4th and 5th tows were done at the entrance of the bay with the ocean. The waves there were a bit bigger than the boat, and I was sitting on the front edge, so they came over right onto me! I made Kyle switch places with me on the way back but quickly found out that the waves are only bad when you're going into them. Curses....

It was a lovely time, and I can't wait for our next collection day. Plus, as a bonus, next week the Coast Guard is offering a boat safety class and I am thinking about taking it so I can captain my own copepod collection boat next time. Gone are the days of rearing Manduca moths down the hall in a stuffy culture room (sorry, Suzanne!) Now, I get to go OUT IN THE FIELD to collect my animals! Science = Happiness!?! That's CRAZY!!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Thursday, already?

I have lost track of time this week. Between Ryan's visit and entering thousands of pictures into the lab database, I forgot to post on the rest of last weekend's festivities.

We drove up to the Western Coast of Oahu, or Wai'anae, as it is called. I was a little freaked out about going up there as, Andrew Doughty and Harriett Friedman's Oahu Revealed write, "Wai'anae is one of the poorer sections of the island, and it has a reputation of being a rough place." We had no problems, and it was absolutely gorgeous. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

The first stop was the limestone beach at 'Ohikilolo, across the street from the Kaneana (see below). The limestone here is constantly tormented by the waves which makes for some awesome tide pools. And the water was the bluest I have seen so far. Here are K and G hanging out on the reef:

Next, we went across the road to see the results of the erosion from ancient waves, when the world was warmer and the sea was high enough to reach the high cliffs formed from the original Oahu lava flows. Here, a cave was formed, and when the Hawaiians discovered it, they called it Kaneana which is named after "Kane", the god of creation, and "ana", which means cave. The cave is a symbol for the earth goddess's womb, and this is where Hawaiians believe all mankind came from. In ancient times, the cave was kapu (forbidden), and was home to the shark man, Nanaue. The Hawaiians are big on their animal gods in case you haven't picked up on that yet. Here are Kyle, Gaffney, and I entering into the womb:

We explored a bit (the cave wasn't more than 50-100 yards deep, unless you wanted to crawl into the abyss). Then we decided to go to the beach and try our hand in some boogy boarding and relaxing. The sand storms finally made us retreat, but not before Ryan and Kyle caught some waves (they are the little white dots in the middle of the water on the left side).

Ryan leaves tonight, and I am a little sad since I don't know when I'll get to see ol' Sac again. Plus, I don't know when we'll get the next chance to go driving around the island to see all of the beauty outside of Honolulu. I guess we'll go again when the next guests arrive, which I just found out will likely be either G-rant and Brad-lay Dean over Memorial Day Weekend or Dacks and Penny in June before our Big Island trip. And KK, my sistah comes in July! Yeah!

Until next time....aloha.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

La o na makua-hine!

Happy Mother's (Makuahine's) Day! Mother's Day / Graduation weekend has been a memorable one here on Oahu. (Happy Graduation to Jessica Bell-Blair as well, who just graduated from WVU law school this weekend!)

We decided to take Ryan to the North Shore on Saturday. It was in a word, AWESOME! We started our trip with some Hawaii shaved Ice in the town of Haleiwa. Haleiwa is what Ryan thought Hawaii would be like: a small strip of road with some sleepy shops, a cute church covered with succulents and an old Ace Hardware with a wooden facade. I would love to live there, but the commute to the University would be too much for me. From there, we headed to the Pu'u o Mahuka Heiau. This is an old Hawaiian temple on the ridge at Waimea Bay where human sacrifices used to take place. I am currently reading James Michener's Hawaii which describes some of the traditions of old Hawaii. Burying people alive under rocks seemed to be a popular choice, along with poking out the eyes, pulling off the arms, and then offering the still-living slave or captured Westerners on the alter. Ouch.

Just across the road from the ruins lies Shark's Cove. In the summer, this little cove is a haven for snorkeling. Crystal clear Shark's Cove was full of people, but it didn't keep the turtles from coming in and swimming with us (photo by Ryan on the underwater Kodak camera). Here is Ryan plunging into the depths:

After we snorkeled for about 3 hours or so, we were famished. Good thing that just around the corner, on the Northern most point of the island is Kahuku, which is famous for its shrimp trucks and shacks, not to mention the fresh fruit stands in which we purchased pre-cut pineapple, coconut, mango, and guava. The shrimp stands are like Mexican hot dog stands of South Tucson: good, good food, and super, super cheap. We had what was probably my favorite meal in Hawaii thus far: Coconut, garlic-butter, and hot and spicy shrimp, with rice, salad, and sweet Kahuku grown corn, all for $39. Top it off with a Sam Adams Summer Ale and it was heaven.

Our stomachs full, we continued to drive around the island, taking in the beautiful beaches on the Windward side of the island. As the sun began to set, we started back to Honolulu via the H-3 (see also this page), which is an engineers' dream. Here is a photo, courtesy of the linked website:

The twin viaducts run for miles, and then enter the tunnels, which go almost a mile through the mountain. The road hits the land only after about 3 more miles on the other side. The road was apparently built to link the Kaneohe military base to Pearl Harbor, and the tunnels are big enough to run tanks through. It truly is an amazing road.

We came out of the tunnels and watched the sun go down. A perfect ending to a perfect day. Today was pretty awesome too, but I will wait until tomorrow to tell that tale.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Happy Graduation!

Today is my official graduation from University of Arizona. I am officially awarded a PhD, but I am not attending the ceremony because I live in Hawaii. Dave Herman is also graduating, Congrats! Dave is house-hunting in San Diego, so he is not attending the ceremony either. So, I took it upon myself to (poorly) photoshop ourselves into graduation regalia. I need to put some tortillas in the background (a U of A tradition), but I don't think I will have time today.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Take me to the other side.

Aloha. We have had a busy weekend, full of lots of little adventures. On Saturday, our league frisbee game was moved from the normal Diamondhead grass-covered lava rock park to Waimanalo Beach, perhaps our favorite sand beach so far. Up until about two weeks ago, the beach had been shut down due to sewage spills and runoff problems caused by the March rains. Only a few people braved the the bacteria, not to mention the 3ft. boogie boarding waves that ended up getting the better of both Kyle and I (the waves, not the bacteria).

On the way back, we descended the cliffs, or Pali (scale bar for Andrew, one cliff = 500-700ft):

The Pali Highway was apparently built by one Mr. John Wilson, which makes me giggle because that was my grandfather's name:

We also saw an awesome waterfall on the way back down:

What we didn't know about the Pali was that you are not supposed to have pork or pork products in your car when you go through there. Apparently, local custom says that the area used to be home of Kamapua'a, a demigod who was half man and half pig. So, if you are carrying some pig, he takes offense to it and curses you with bad luck. Ryan read this in a book when we got back from the Pali, followed by a prompt, "Didn't we have bacon on our sandwiches from lunch?" Neither Kyle nor I finished our lunch sandwiches, so we knew that bad luck was about to come our way.

So, today, what happens? We go to Chinatown (pictures later) and have awesome dim sum, only to find our our bill was a whopping $21! Okay, so no bad luck there. On our way back from Chinatown, we decided to take Ryan through Waikiki. Kyle suddenly turns left onto one of the side streets. I promptly snip, "What are you doing!"

Kyle, panickly, "Trying to get this cop of my a**. Uhoh, too late." We hadn't registered the car yet in Hawaii. Oops. Kamapua'a strikes.

We shake it off, knowing that it was bound to happen sooner or later. We go home, have a nap, and decide to go have a picnic on top of St. Louis Heights, or Waahila Ridge. Ryan and Kyle picked a lovely assortment of fish, sausages (chicken flavored, as to not further upset our demi-god) and asparagus, only to find, lo and behold, Kamapua'a had stolen all of the grills at the park! We had to make do with what we had: the sausages are on the remains of the grate, the salmon held precariously between two with a chop stick!

And, leftover from yesterday's beach excursion, our very own handmade, trays and covers, from Miller Lite cans:

The rest of the evening was beautiful, among the tall trees that I haven't bothered to find the name of yet... and we had a beautiful sunset overlooking the ocean. We're hoping we've heard the last of Kamapua'a. Maybe he's forgotten us and moved on to the next poor bacon-carrying tourists that went over the Pali today.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Hamuhamu what?

Yesterday we took Ryan to Hanauma Bay, the fish and marine sanctuary here on Oahu. The bay was formed when one side of Kokohead Crater got eaten away by the waves, leaving a perfect little cove for reef fish and turtles . Sadly, we saw no turtles yesterday, but we did see a lot of awesome reef fish, including the state fish of Hawaii, the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a, or Hawaiian trigger fish if you're a haole and don't want to bother saying that. (I hope the June Big Island Campers are practicing how to say it for the prize!) There was a nice sculpture of it at the Vistor's center. Here's Ryan and the fish:

And Kyle and the fish:

Always chasing tail, Kyle?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I only have eyes for you...

A couple of months ago, Cheryl and Sam sent the family an ultrasound picture of Megan, and my parents allegedly hung it on the wall with the other pictures of the kids. Knowing that the competition for the "perfect child" was going to be tough this year, I sent my parents a picture of my "kid", a copepod nauplius. A nauplius is the larval stage of the planktonic copepod, the marine invertebrate that I spend each and every day examining under a microscope. I will post that picture later, but in the meantime, I just entered a microscopy contest with some fluorescent confocal (laser-scanning microscope) images of the adults. Here's one that didn't make the cut. Each image shows a different fluoroscent antibody bound to a particular antigen, and the fourth image is a composite of the other three. If you are interested in what each antibody is labeling, just email me and I'll let you know. ENJOY!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Happy Lei Day!

Happy Lei Day! Leis are everywhere on the island. The statues of old Hawaiian royalty all have fresh leis around their necks (put there by tourists, locals, who knows?). When you give a presentation at the University, you are first presented with a lei to wear during your talk. On your birthday, your coworkers and loved ones will sometimes give you leis. And, of course, when you arrive on the island your friends will put a lei around your neck and say, "Aloha".

The linked article above mentions the more subtle and spiritual side of leis. Each flower represents a different meaning, each lei maker concentrates on a spiritual and historical narrative while they are threading each flower in each lei. And you should see some of the amazing leis they make! Ben Franklin's, our local craft store, has a lei making guide and I think Lei Day may inspire me to try to make a few of my own. I'll let you know how they turn out!