August 3, 2005
This creek was south of Beaufort, SC. It took us 11/2 hours just to drive there. Today it was Guy, me, and two young graduate students, Mark and Jon. They were so nice it would have been a better day under any circumstances! The marsh was huge, mostly Spartina but also a lot of Juncus (black needlerush). The Juncus was an indication that there was some higher and dryer ground, but the needles poke through your clothes and into your skin. I buried my leg to the knee after half-a-dozen steps, and said, "Oh, no, here we go again!" (or words to that effect), but it turned out to be not so bad!! On Day One of each creek, water and sediment samples are collected. First we travel up the creek collecting water samples from each of three "reaches", and then retrace our steps collecting the sediment samples. About half a dozen water specimens are collected at each site, separate samples for the various scientists and projects, and put on ice. On this creek, there were three sites with a pond at the head. The pond was SO far away from the mouth of the creek system, and still had a salinity of 20.6 parts per thousand-pretty high, and pretty surprising to me! At the pond, I got so stuck that I couldn't move at all, and Jon literally dug out my foot, bless him! He was practically lying flat so he wouldn't sink in, and buried his arm to the shoulder to get at my foot. I'd name my next child after him if I were having any more!
After the water samples were collected, we went back to each site and collected sediment samples from three areas within each reach. We had to wait for about 30-45 minutes before the tide got low enough to collect the samples, so we just sat in the creek and "chilled". We were wet, there was a breeze, and the conversation was great-very relaxing. I began to think I wouldn't run away after all...
Sediment sampling at each site included a big fat core, 3 pore-water samples, and 2-3 surface samples, each collected about one meter from the high tide mark (reading the mud line on the Spartina). Each sample was placed in a ziploc bag, and then hauled in our backpacks until we got back to the cooler. At the second reach, we deployed the YSI sonde and did some extra sediment sampling. I found several channeled whelk shells and even an olive shell!
After the last reach, we hauled everything out and drove back; we got back about 5:30 pm and spent another hour or so cleaning up. Water and most sediment samples were refrigerated in the lab; the big cores were sieved through a 500-micron screen to extract the macroinvertebrates, which were then placed in preservative. And the inevitable cleanup of boots, clothes, and equipment-not as bad as yesterday, though!
I talked to Anne about how great Jon and Mark had been, helping me out at every turn without making me feel like an inadequate old lady. John Lefler from Seafood Safety came by to tell me he's taking me to the mariculture facility on Friday-can't wait! I stopped at a pizza place on the way back to the hotel to get takeout, and the scientist from microbiology and her husband came in and invited me to join them-everyone has been so friendly! I declined in favor of an immediate BATH. By the way, my red socks (I couldn't find gray) bled out all over my feet, and I'm bright red to about mid-calf-cute! Well, it's 11 pm and I'm dead-tired. Tomorrow we'll go back to today's site for seining, but I'm not anxious and apprehensive tonight.