In May of this year (2019), my lab group traveled to Green Island, Taiwan for a month long field season to culture planktic forams. This wasn't my first adventure to a field location to culture forams, but the first time I've traveled to such a remote location. Although Taiwan itself isn't exactly 'remote', Green Island is.. Travel required a car rental, 17 hour flight, a taxi ride, a stay in a hotel, a train ride, a taxi ride to a ferry, a 45 minute ferry ride, then another taxi to the scooter rental, then a scooter ride to the lab. In all it took about 48 hours until we arrived at the lab. Leaving for any emergency would take a similar amount of travel, which caused me an enormous amount of travel anxiety (future blog post on academic travel anxiety coming soon)..
Every year that I've had a field season, I promise myself that I'm going to blog from the field. And every year I fail miserably at this effort (see my field blogging attempts in 2013, 2014, 2015). Days in the lab are sooooo veeeeery looooong. On Green Island, we'd get up at 5:30 am (sometimes 5 am to do yoga first, because #selfcare) and have the truck loaded to get to the dive boat by 6:30 am. We are out on the water by 7am at the latest and return most days 2-3 hours later (with the exception of our EPIC water sampling day). Then it's a frenzy of going through the dive material, plankton tow collections, AND we still need to observe and possibly feed every single foram we already have in culture. Each group has their own set of daily tasks for their forams and everyone pitches in to help things go smoothly. We took breaks for lunch, dinner, and often end up in the lab until late in the evening. Though many nights after dinner we'd have a beer or a T&T and then it'd be off to bed with sometimes little other work accomplished because we're all just SPENT. Rinse. Repeat.
We DO have some breaks here and there, sometimes on Sundays (#SundayFunday), when we didn't do a dive/tow collection and then we'd have time to do a fun dive/snorkel, see some sights on the island (pics below!), and relax. But the time to blog is always hard to find.
So this year, we tried something different. Instead of blogging HERE on my website, we did a group effort and blogged on the NatGeo Open Explorer forum:
Most of the posts were written by CEOAS graduate students Kelsey Lane, who did an AMAZING job! There were also a few posts by Theresa Fritz-Endres, a post by Oscar Branson who blogged about diving for forams and a few posts by me. This was by far a way more successful blog than we've ever had in terms of the number of blog posts. The downside about the NatGeo blog format: You can only post 4 photographs per post and at the END of your post unless you store them somewhere else online (GitHub, Flickr, etc). Because of this, a few of our posts still need photographs (coming soon I hope!). But all in all, NatGeo's Open Explorer was a GREAT way to blog for a field season and I highly recommend it if you're looking for a great avenue for blocking about your field research adventures.
Published 10am on 1 Sept., 2019
Update 11am on 1 Sept., 2019: I just found out NatGeo is no longer supporting their OpenExplorer blog. I admit I'm a little sad to hear that this amazing platform will not longer be supported. A new platform will take its place at National Geographic Society for NGS-supported expeditions. So, onward to a new finding a new blogging location for our next field campaign.