Sapelo Island Week Two

Dolphins look like sharks lingering near the shallows of Sapelo Island’s coastal estuary, where the marsh meets muddy brackish water. But if you look closely, the slow roll of their fin down into the water and then back up a few seconds later gives them away. That’s the point where I can breathe again and relax as they follow in the wake of the boat.

During my second week of fieldwork in the barrier islands of Georgia, I installed a working CO2LAMP sensor. My colleagues drilled holes for stabilizing t-shaped PVC pipes to be inserted into the marsh from the bottom board of the CO2LAMP sensor platform. I soldered some wires on the inside of the sensor casing. We tested the sensor’s Arduino board both inside the lab and out in the field for the startup light sequence. I did some troubleshooting on my Smart Rock before re-charging and reinstalling it. Unfortunately, the Smart Rock had not collected any data since the last visit, but it did stay dry. I believe I flipped a switch in the field while the sensor was still on last time, causing the program to be disrupted and halting any data collection. If all goes well, the next visit will involve removing and downloading environmental data from two full SD cards!

I knew a little more about how to avoid sinking down in the muck despite wearing galoshes by leaning forward onto my shins from my previous journey, but it was my first time installing wooden boards, copper pipes, and the flotation device that would hold my waterproof sensor. The installation went quicker than expected because we split the journey into two trips. One, to secure the boards and sensor into the ground and connect it to power; two, to fasten down the top board to the boardwalk with zip ties. On the other days, I helped a colleague from the University of Georgia at Athens measure photosynthetic active radiation (i.e., sunlight plants can use) at different heights of vegetation.

There is one more sensor remaining, which can be installed next time if we drill another hole into the power box at the tower. There wasn’t enough power cord or space to include both sensors during the previous trip. Time between visits is flying by and as the summer comes to a close I am both excited at the prospect of analyzing my data and testing out my theory, but nervous for negative or no results and other mishaps that are bound to occur while doing fieldwork. How is your summer going so far? I would love to hear about it in the comments!



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