Blog for 2010-06-21

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After nearly a week of snorkeling, sleeping on the beach and pouring rain, our time on Gaya Island was coming to an end. The day began as any other, and everyone got together to eat their breakfast. As everyone ate you could see the fear in their eyes as they anticipated their presentations later that morning. You could cut the tension with a butter knife, and could hear the sound of a pin drop. After breakfast we had a cleaning session to get everyone pumped up for our presentations. We mopped, then swept (out of order no?), then got organized, and finally packed. And finally, it was time. Niko and Thasun kicked the presentations off, with a riveting study on the crabs inhabiting the nearby beaches. These two had some issues previously with Thasun's foot/cholesterol related injury, but after a short phone call to a crab expert these two were back in business. And boy did that phone call pay off. Their presentation compared the sex ratios of two species of crabs, and they got some interesting results. After Thasun and Niko discussed their case of crabs, Marley, Chris, and Kimberly were up. Their project was on snails and their feet! They did a study to see whether or not foot strength varies between snails that live on different substrates. I'm not sure who the next group was, but we'll just say it was Pagi, Sopark and Dex. And they did a study on the fish composition in different parts of the reef. Next came Sarah and Dyna, who did a study on gastropod shell variation in relation to the frequency of BIG waves each snail was subject to. Then it was Doni, Nikh, and Tam who did an experiment with hermit crabs. Although it was borderline cruel, the results of their experiment was really interesting. Their project was on whether or not hermit crabs had a preference for their own shell or if it varied. And by applying a little heat they were able to test this. Kaz, Rachel, and Anu did a study on fish coloration in relation to the color of the substrate in which they swam. A colorful experiment for a colorful group. Then it was Sachi and myself. What a fantastic presentation. Our study was on cardinalfish and their defensive behavioral responses in relation to the presence of sea urchins and corals. And lastly it was Sam and Alex, who did their study on bleaching of corals in relation to the presence of clams that actually live in the coral itself. Very cool stuff. All in all a very successful set of studies. After we were done with presentations we struck our tents, which only half of us actually slept in, and started putting our bags onto the boats. And before we knew it Gaya island was a distant island on the horizon............a great 2 kilometers from the shores of Kota Kinabalu. Now it was time to head to Mt. Kinabalu. We dropped our bags and computers off, and got on the bus for the mountain. On the way we stopped at a super luxurious roadside stop. We had, what was I'm pretty sure, a 12 course meal, which included a whole coconut for all, and much more. We ended the meal with a fresh durian hybrid provided by Cam, and then we were off to Mt. Kinabalu. But before we got their we made a stop at a gas station to use the bathroom and buy some snacks. After that stop the day gets kinda blurry for me, seeing that I was asleep for most of the bus ride, and when I woke up I had a killer sinus/altitude related headache. But when we got to the "dorms" we were briefed on how to use the showers and the kettle and then we were free to explore the mountain side. This is the moment in time where I may not be the best person to be doing the blog for this day. As we walked along the path I slowly became delirious due to pain, but apparently my group saw lots of birds, including a cuckoo chick stealing food from a host species. We got back to the "dorm" and I proceeded to get in bed at 6 PM and didn't wake until 7 the next morning. But from what I understand everybody had dinner around 6:15 and then had a lecture from Shawn and a mountain man. Shawn spoke of the differences between plant species at different altitudes as well as the extreme differences between plants on "normal" soil and on serpentine soils. And from what I was told the mountain man was there to strike fear into the hearts of the students of bb10. And after his presentation it was time for bed. A night of anticipation and excitement preceding a day of extreme hiking.