About to Begin Earthwatch!

Thursday, July 24, 2008
Welcome back, friends!

I've arrived in California and it is beautiful! I meet my Earthwatch Expedition team tomorrow morning. I am spending a few nights in Moss Landing beforehand, and I'm having fun exploring the area. I am staying at the Captain's Inn in Moss Landing. It is an old sea Captain's house, and it is full of wonderful ocean relics. There are old rowboats, old buoys, paddles, and lanterns that fishermen used to use. There are large fishing nets, steering wheels, navigational charts and vintage board games, like Parker Brothers' 1948 Sunken Treasure! Have a look in the Photo Gallery often, as I will be downloading pictures of my trip into the six different categories. 

I wanted to tell you a little bit more about what I'll be doing later this week. To begin with, we'll be staying in a house on Pajaro Beach, which is north of Moss Landing. I know that I'll be waking up really early (around 4:30 a.m., which is before the sun rises)! I'll have breakfast with my team members, before packing up our cameras, binoculars, journals, and lunches to head south to Moss Landing, where the otters will already be awake and busy swimming and diving into the wetland looking for their breakfast!

When we arrive at Moss Landing, we'll head to Elkhorn Slough and that is when we will all become field researchers! The fun thing about being a field researcher is that you get to ask a lot of questions, and when you ask questions, you learn all kinds of new and interesting things!

Our team has a leader. Her name is Daniela Maldini, and she's an ocean scientist. She knows a lot of cool facts about oceans and the lives of animals that live in them. Daniela will ask us to help her collect important information on the otters living in Elkhorn Slough. This way, instead of just having her own two eyes to see the otters, and to write and draw about them in her journal, she'll have all of our eyes watching them and taking notes on them too. Together as a team, well learn a lot more about otters than if we were each working on our own.

There are five specific things that we will pay attention to when we are watching the otters:

1) How many otters can we count in Elkhorn Slough?

2) How many different ways do the otters use their home in Elkhorn Slough?

3) How many otters are boys (male), and how many otters are girls (female)?

4) What kind of food and snacks do the otters like best?

5) What kinds of behaviors do the otters reveal to us when we see them. For example, are the otters peaceful and quiet like all of you are when you're reading books, or are they energetic and playful like when you are playing at the park?

I'm really looking forward to working in Elkhorn Slough because Daniela is going to teach us how to use a tool called GPS to record what we see in the field. GPS uses satellites in space to locate the exact location of each otter we see. I think that is very cool! Knowing where we see each otter allows us to enter our observations into a computer that keeps track of otter information and compares it over many years. 

Fun Otter Fact #2
The way to tell if a southern sea otter is a male or female is to look at their head. If the otter has white hair, it's most likely a boy.

For a website that shows where I am, see http://www.elkhornslough.org







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