The theme for SAMPLA’s progress this week is A for effort. Attempts to track the recently tagged shark Xena (formerly known as Bitey) as well as attempts to conduct 24-hr seal surveys were thwarted by bad weather and sick interns. Nevertheless, the birthday celebrations for SAMPLA director, Stef, could not be hindered by rough seas nor invading bacterium!
As our often quoted birthday-man-director, Stef, likes to say, “Tomorrow is a brand new day,” and with a brand new day came a brand new name for the shark of the hour, Bitey. The general rule of thumb in shark naming is that the crew on the boat who tags the shark gets to name it. Stef, Christine, Vicky and Nico were the lucky crew to have this honor but what they lacked in decisiveness they made up for in many, many potential names for the newly tagged 3.5m female shark, hence the name change to one more fitting. Bitey was therefore renamed Xena (after the warrior princess) to better reflect her characteristic battle scars, the large wound on her left side and her unique parasites, which are hair like in nature.
Tracking the rambunctious Xena proved tricky not only because of her way-ward swimming habits but also because of the weather. So just like last week, the SAMPLA crew had to abandon tracking efforts. Weather not only hindered white shark studies but two different attempts to conduct 24 hr seal surveys as well. Though the diurnal observations were completed, by the time the nocturnal portion of the surveys were underway the sea conditions once again cut SAMPLA’s work short.
This isn’t to say however, that a little rain and a brisk wind keeps the SAMPLA team from completed its task. On the contrary, the crew can complete work in these conditions with their eyes closed! Assuming one eye is slightly open to properly record observations. What truly made the week a challenge was that half the interns came down with a flurry of illnesses which took most of them out of the running for tracking and seal surveys.
In the midst of all this came the fateful date of Tuesday, September 16. The birth of SAMPLA director Stef. There is no intestinal bacterial infection or gale wind strong enough to keep the celebrations subdued. During the 2am crew switch for the only 24hr seal survey (conducted earlier in the week) that was fully completed, Stef’s birthday became official and so did the chocolate cake brought in for him.
The week has ended with slow intern-recoveries and a sunny weekend. Tomorrow is not only “a brand new day”, it’s a brand new week that brings the same tenacious work effort but new chances to track Xena as well as opportunities to fully complete a 24 hr seal survey.
Vicky and Nico (SAMPLA interns)