Urchin/Crab Panama Expedition 2018: Day 2

What a day.  Up at 5:00am, granola bars for breakfast and getting ready for the day.  Went down the visitors office only to find that our scientific visit hadn’t been approved and we couldn’t do any work.  Got that all sorted in a couple of hours and then raced off to the boat in Naos.  Headed out on an urchin/crab sampling trip with Harilaos Lessios, Alexandra Hiller, and a couple of divers.  Because customs had taken my snorkel mask I stayed on the boat… but that’s okay because I just fished for a couple of hours.  The sampling trip was a success… Haris collected several dozen urchins for his own work as well as representatives of the three Pacific species of interest for our project.  Those are Diadema mexicanum, Echinometra vanbrunti and Eucidaris tribuloides.  Alexandra and Laetitia were lucky enough to find a few porcelain crabs as well (Petrolisthes  agassizii).

Then the problems began.  Another STRI person went to the airport for our luggage and was rejected.  Now they want a “commercial invoice” from UC Davis and they won’t deal with any of us or STRI anymore, we have to work through a “customs broker” to “exonerate” our luggage.  What a mess.

We then went around the research facility in Naos and begged/borrowed some petri dishes and LB.  Then Laetitita stayed behind to dissect the crabs while Jarrod and I raced to the grocery store to stock up, then up to Gamboa.  He found an old tub of chemicals and we made a new invention “David’s marine LB” which we autoclaved (after weighing chemicals on ads torn out of a phone book).   Then off to our housing… which we couldn’t find!  We literally ended up going from dark house to dark house trying my key until we got in somewhere.  Grabbed some dinner and then headed back to the lab to pour plates, dissect the urchins, and plate out some (hopefully) bacteria.  Interesting process with no dissection tools, no alcohol, no flame (we eventually found a cigarette lighter).  Meanwhile Laetitita finished up in Naos and caught an Uber up to Gamboa.  We crashed after midnight… though were awoken in the middle of night by what Laetitita assumed was someone breaking into the house but was actually the living room light fixture falling and shattering.

About David Coil

David Coil is a Project Scientist in the lab of Jonathan Eisen at UC Davis. David works at the intersection between research, education, and outreach in the areas of the microbiology of the built environment, microbial ecology, and bacterial genomics. Twitter

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