Shelley, congratulations on your very impressive prospectus. Best wishes for your own work on the freshwater environs.
50 degrees south and discover
its hidden secrets
Many ecologists (and anthropologists for that matter) describe how the love of fieldwork was an important motivator in their choice of degree and career path. For those wishing to proceed along the research trajectory nowadays a PhD is a necessary prerequisite. However, there are many fieldwork skills that your university education will not teach you. To assist the budding fieldworker, I have compiled a handy list of skills required in the field:
1. Learn to sew, patch and otherwise mend your clothing and gear: After 6.5 weeks, and countless adventures through the Dracophyllum on hands and knees, my waterproof pants finally got their first tears. In the interests of water resistance (and modesty) the patching has begun – three holes mended requiring two patches so far.
2. Learn your knots: With the boats that come in from time to time as well as the need to build structures that can withstand strong winds and careless sea lions, a rudimentary knowledge of knots hasn’t gone amiss.
3. Figure out the way to keep and maintain dry gear as best you can (while generally dealing with the fact you may feel permanently damp): We are lucky to have an oversupply of Silica gel. That stuff you get in sachets to keep clothes and food dry—botanists use it to dry plant specimens. We have redeployed the Silica to assist us dry our boots and electronics.
4. Ensure you don’t become too dependent on your iPod.
5. Learn to cook gourmet meals with unusual substitutions based on the strange ingredients available to you: cream cheese icing using cheese sauce (so that we can use up the carrots that are going off) and pavlova with reduced cream instead of cream are highlights so far. Incorporating our surplus of pickled onions and gherkins into all meals is this week’s culinary challenge.