During my mid-semester break from the University of Cape Town my Life in the Sea course had a 4 day field trip to Langebaan. Langebaan is about an hour and a half drive west of Cape Town. We stayed in West Coast National Park where Langebaan lagoon can be found. West Coast National Park serves as a great place for students and faculty to conduct research because it is all under protection and 24/7 surveillance.
So, on the first day we looked at the species diversity and abundance of fish at 3 different sites all within the lagoon. The reason for testing multiple sites is because each site had a different wave action (wave intensity) pending on where it resided in terms of the mouth the lagoon. We used a 30 x 30 net and then pulled the fish in working quickly to get them into our set up buckets for identification, measurement, and counting. We used some anesthetic to calm the fish down and then got them put back into the water as soon as possible. The coolest fish that we found was what is commonly known as the guitarfish.
The next day we looked at the diversity of shell species found on hermit crabs within a given zone of Langebaan, specifically referred to as Kraal Bay. Then we also measured the mouth of the shell and the fit of the crab inside of the shell (whether the shell was too small or too big).
The next day we woke up very early in the morning to catch low tide in order to gather different species of muscles. After gathering these muscles they were put into ziplock sealed bags and then taken back to base camp where we pull apart the muscles in order to what organisms were living amongst them.
We then had to pick a study that we found most interesting from our trip and write a report on it and crunch all of data creating tables and graphs in order to present our findings in a logical way.
This trip was a lot of fun and it was a great opportunity to get to really know my fellow South African classmates and teachers as we sang songs by the camp fire in the evenings. It was definitely not my ideal way to spend my mid-semester break, but it was definitely a great experience filled with awesome people and incredible scenery.