It's hard to believe the school year and my time in the Conservation of Marine Resources CI is coming to a close. If the school year was a day then the table would be set, the food would be served and we'd be starting to eat. To properly review everything that happened since my last blog and bring closure to my tenure on the team, I thought it was fitting to do a best/worst for the year. As per usual, I'll start with the best:
3) FOCI: I was only able to get to one poster conference, but it was nice to witness the fruits of our labor and present our work to judges and "Taking a bite out of the reef" adoring fans. Unfortunately we were unable to achieve the same success as last years parrotfish poster, but I have to think that was do to our positioning in the back of the 3rd room.
2) Diving with a bull shark: I was lucky enough to go on census trips to the Keys two more times this year, first in October and then once again over winter break. Some secondary highlights of the trip include my first opportunity to dive with young Rhandi, becoming a life long bro with Shawn at KML, and watching a live performance of Juke Box Hero. To the average Keys diver this may be fine and dandy, but swimming with a 12' bull shark at 11' Mound took the cake. It was an exhilarating rush to see such a powerful and dangerous creature up close, and I got some footage to boot. Editors note: it was confirmed by Sarah who works with sharks that it was definitively a Bull Shark.
1) Animated Powerpoint slide: the list is long and impressive, but by far my crowning achievement for the year was when Jac and I dropped knowledge on the lab about parrotfish species of the Florida Keys and our census methods. They say actions speak louder than words and a picture is worth a thousand words, so a picture that moves and requires no words to explain what is going on must be very loud and verbose.
Now on to worst,
3) Lobsters: these little critters were the bane of my existence this year. One of them tail flipped and sprayed me with water when I was trying to feed him. Another one molted precisely a day before my feed day knowing that Daniel would but half the molt on top of the tank and scare the crap out of me when I glanced up. Big Joe was alright though.
2) Almost dying: I think I almost died at least a handful of times this year. Obviously the bull shark spared my life and could have killed me at any moment. Randi almost got into a car accident pulling in at AutoZone. Davy Jones himself almost took us and the SS Argus on our way to Porkfish reef. But alas I'm still standing, and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger I hear.
1) Poisonwood: Allow me one throwback to the summer if you will, because this was one of the most annoying experiences of my life. No longer will I take having unswollen and pain free hands for granted, and never again will I touch Daniel's guitar. Simply put, man is not meant to float underwater with red balloon hands while trying to zip tie vexar predatory exclusion cages.