Saturday, July 27, 2013

Azores Day 6

Well, poo. I wrote this once before, let's see if it decides to save this time. I have a free half hour of internet before I have to shell out money. I am currently in the Lisbon airport waiting for my next flight to Newark. Yesterday was my last day in the Azores and it was appropriately rainy and gross. Although, not terribly gross, and I have an appreciation that it must rain sometimes to sustain the beautiful lush greenery on the island.

The last of the cephalopod talks were yesterday and I think I have made myself known as a cephalopod biologist. I attended every cephalopod themed talk (except those that occurred in a different symposium, concurrent with the one I was in) and made sure to make some introductions.  I didn't talk to as many people as I probably should have, but I did feel as though I learned a lot. There was a dinner for the cephalopod people on Thursday night which I regretfully missed... I had not written down the name of the restaurant and didn't manage to find anyone with the information.  So, that was a bummer. But perhaps if I end up writing to any of these people in the future, they might be able to remember my face from the crowd. Also, thanks to Steven, I got a lot of attention due to my amazing tentacle bling.

I am very motivated now to get back and finish up--I WILL FINISH MY PHD! I feel some inspiration to move on to new and exciting things. It is going to be hard, but I think I have a clearer picture of what I need to do now. Also, after watching everyone else's talks, I am pretty sure the next talk I do will be much better.  

I had to leave before the conference dinner so that I could catch my flight, but I think it is alright since I am pretty sure that is when they give out awards to student speakers. I know I didn't get one.  They were very disorganized at the start of the conference and I am suspicious that they forgot to have the two evaluators that were supposed to be there. Even so, I didn't do my best and hopefully I will have another opportunity to prove myself in a conference setting.

I bought some goodies on my way out to bring back some souvenirs from the beautiful Azores. I bought a couple tins of packaged fish, one thing of sardines and one of calamari! I couldn't decide if they would take them away since they had liquid inside, but I thought since they were packaged and had never been opened it might be alright. I was wrong, of course. Oh well, I took a picture of them and decided to move on. It was really the packaging that was the best part about it. Oh poo, I should have kept the packaging, they threw it out anyway. Well, my brain clearly wasn't working at that point. I really didn't want to check my bag, so I just said skip it. The wrote down my name and I felt like some  kind of truant. 

I think I am about to run out of internet so I'm just going to finish this up. It was such an incredible experience and I especially loved meeting new people, both from the Azores and from the Conference. I hope to get the opportunity to go back some day.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Azores Day 5

Today was the first of the Cephalopod Symposia days. We began with some talks to commemorate Malcolm Clarke, one of the key proponents of cephalopod research.  He recently passed away, and this conference is being held in his honor. I tried to take a picture of Paul Rodhouse (!!!--the extant author of Cepahlopods: ecology and fisheries) holding a large squid beak, but it is difficult to see. He's holding it though... 
 At lunch, I decided to take a walk since I realized tomorrow is my last day here :( I made it back to the bell-tower and this time it was open for me to climb up.  Along the way, I passed by the museum, but it was closed.
 Most of the streets are cobblestone and I am so impressed with all of the beautiful patterns that are built into the streets. I am also impressed with the women who seem capable of walking in heels on the cobblestone.
The view from the steps of the bell-tower before climbing up.
  To climb up to the top of the bell-tower, I had to sneak around to the back where there was a little door open. Inside, it was dark and there was a narrow stone staircase that appeared like it would collapse at any moment into a crumbling pile of dust.
 At the top, there was a winding staircase that lead to the top of the tower. I barely fit. I couldn't imagine any one of a different body type squeezing up that thing.
 Here I am at the top. My foot is there for reference so you can see how ridiculously tight that little staircase was.
 But the view was worth it.

 I quickly made it down the steps and walked back through town to get back to the conference on time. I can't believe that it's almost over! It's been so thrilling. I am reveling in the high concentration of nerdery.

Yay, Ginger! This is Madalena's adorable and super friendly cat, Ginger :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day 4

Yesterday, I went diving! We met in the morning at the University, which reminded me that I haven't posted pictures of the University. As with the rest of the island, it is covered in the ubiquitous hydrangeas. It is small, but lovely.

 Below is Nicole on the left and Bec on the right, my dive buddies.

 The dive shop was pretty slammed with all of the people from the conference so we went in one of the whale watching boats.

Below is the prison--pretty nice place to be in jail, I would imagine.  A view of the ocean and everything.

This is our first dive spot, right in front of that giant rock.

I wanted to take a picture of myself to prove that I was actually diving too :) And then we started to see octopuses! Here was our first encounter...

  Below is a nudibranch!!! But, my camera decided to be poopy and unfocused... You can kind of tell that it's awesome though
 More octopus love. Our dive master was playing with it and the octopus kept reaching out his arms to follow his hand.

Can you spot the flounder?


 Another camo-fish--red this time
 Unfocused sponges
 Fire worms!
 Sea cucumber
 I loved all of this sea leaf blue lined algae (I doubt that is the real name...)
 This last octopus was one I found at the end of the dive. I was very proud of myself.
 On our dive, there were people from the conference from Brazil who had collecting permits so they spent their dive collecting molluscs and in this case, crustaceans... Yay, hermit crab!

Here is an aplesia on a clam
 Nudibranch on a shell! In a tube... so not super focused

After that, we had another dive in the afternoon on a wreck.  It was about twice a deep as my camera is rated to go, so I decided not to risk it. There were more ctenophores than I have ever seen before! It was incredible, so beautiful.  It was some sort of swarm up close to the boat. Also, there were some actual stinging jellyfish that everyone managed to avoid, thankfully.

The wreck sank at the end of WWII and there was a lot of life that had grown on it and was aggregating around it.  We saw another octopus--so many! I was thrilled!

After, we grabbed a coffee and some beers. Here is Bec with one of the tiny cups of coffee they have here, so cute!

Alright, speaking of coffee, I need to head to the conference to get back to absorbing all of the science! Today is a cephalopod day--yay! Sorry the quality of my blogs is quickly diminishing... My brain is losing power.