Saturday, July 23, 2011

Seagrass, Shaving Cream, Victory

Boston has had a nice stretch of Southern-style hot weather this week. It was hot enough in my un-air-conditioned bathroom to cause an aerosol can of shaving gel to spontaneously rupture, giving birth to a delightful, cologne-scented blue blob monster.


The warm weather was also perfect for the underwater fieldwork I had to do, too, snorkeling in an eelgrass bed on the West side of Nahant with several helpful colleagues. The eelgrass here is the same species (Zostera marina) that I studied in graduate school in Virginia, but it's morphology and habitat are different. It lives in deeper water here in New England, and it grows taller with broader, beefier shoots.

The eelgrass experiment is part of my former PhD advisor J. Emmett Duffy's "ZEN" project. ZEN stands for "Zostera Experimental Network". The ZEN experiment is a relatively simple manipulation of nutrient levels and herbivore abundance, but it's being replicated in the many different parts of the world that have eelgrass beds, in order to determine the relative importance of nutrient pollution versus food chain alteration on a global scale.

This is what the experiment site looks like from the shore.

This is what it looks like underwater.

I used my Mistral Equipe longboard as a utliity raft to carry the PVC poles that we had to pound into the sand to mark the seagrass plots.

Among other aspects of the eelgrass bed that we examined, we swept a large dip net to assess the abundance of small fish and invertebrates.

After work I've jumped on a few good windsurfing opportunities. Thursday there was enough breeze for me to demo Josh Angulo's 90 liter Quad-fin / Twin-fin "Victory" waveboard with my 5.5 sail. The waves that day were virtually nonexistent, but I could still tell that it was a sweet board.


gary boates said...

A boar hair shaving brush and a bar of inexpensive glycerine soap from Dial is all you require to lather up for a good shave. Bail on the mystery chemicals in the non-disposable can.

Can't help but think how much money eel grass has cost windsurfers over the decades...

James Douglass said...

Hey Gary,

I'm all about inexpensive and eco-friendly, so I'll see if I can find some of that glycerine soap. Using a face brush made from pig's fur sounds gnarly, so I may have to try that, too.

Perhaps I should cite "stimulating the economy by motivating windsurfers to buy weed fins" as one of the benefits of of preserving eelgrass. :) Some of the other benefits are that it helps maintain clear water, reduces erosion, and provides food and habitat for critters.


Johnny Douglass said...

It looks like a good life...except for the shaving cream. Just don't shave.

Kevin Hardin said...

I got super excited when I saw the picture of teh old Mistral before I read the caption. I was really hoping you were going to take it out sailing.

Lady Notorious said...

What a great video! I think the song totally makes it, The Brother Kite is ftw. Your jibes look pretty sharp there, impressive and fun to watch :)

What's the creepy crawly you're holding in your hand in that photo?

James Douglass said...

Dad- I'm doing pretty well with the not-shaving this week, just like my crusty old man, but I'll have to shave at some point before Rhonda's sister's wedding on Saturday. :)

Kevin- Oh, I'll definitely take the Equipe out sailing. I had an epic 8.0 session on it about a week ago at Nahant, but unfortunately with no camera. It rips with the new gasket I put on the daggerboard.

Lady Notorious- It was amazingly fortuitous that the song and the video were both exactly 4:17. The critter I'm holding is a sand shrimp in the genus Crangon. I'm not sure the species.