It’s a beautiful, sunny morning at the Scottish Association for Marine Science – there’s fresh snow on the hills and a chill in the air – refreshing! Days like today are why I love working here – the view is always spectacular, and really gives you a lift as you go about science-ing for the day.
I’m currently training for a triathlon, and considering swimming in the sea on my lunch break today – cold… yes, but it’s also beautiful and calm, and the water is crystal clear. As a marine ecologist, I love inspecting the creatures living on the seabed and in the seaweed and kelp as I swim past. How many people get to live and breathe their jobs – the fun bits of their jobs – on a daily basis? I particularly love seeing peacock works, whose beautiful striped fans retract so quickly into their tubes if you get too close. That and hermit crabs – I’ve had a life-long obsession with them. I love how they shuffle across the sea bed leaving trails behind them as they drag their shells across the sand. I’ve never seen one of them change shells before – but that’s on my bucket list of things to see before I die (that and the Himalayas!).
We’re also lucky enough to have curious seals come to visit as we swim around the headland. So far, they haven’t come too too close, and in a sense, I’m glad of that. To me they look like marine rottweilers – bit and stocky, and probably with pointy teeth! I’m sure they wouldn’t harm me, but I must admit that I’m a bit paranoid about a seal playfully mouthing my neoprene bootie a bit too hard and getting a bit of flesh!
I’ll be armed with my 6mm wetsuit today – I can’t tell you the water temperature because our data flows aren’t working at the moment (we’re currently updating the SAMS website). However, you can see the beautiful conditions for yourself through the SAMS webcams – both above and below the water! Check out the live feeds here.
*UPDATE – as of 14:00 this afternoon, I can report that the water is, indeed cold, that the tide was ebbing, and that the spring phytoplankton bloom is starting up – the water was very cloudy! No seals of hermit crabs to report, but I did see a beautiful red and orange sun star, a bit like the one below (Crossaster papposus?).