Whoo! After an early morning wake-up (there’s nothing like an alarm going off at 4:15 am), a yawn-filled trip to the airport, a layover in Charlotte and a snooze on the flight to Pensacola, we arrived in Florida! And boy, were we revved up to go. We got some quick sustenance at Panera Bread and picked up necessary supplies (water, granola bars, fruit and the like) at Publix, the local supermarket, before heading off to Pensacola beach, our first stop.
It looked like we were entering an amusement park as we crossed the bridge onto Pensacola Beach, and by the end of our sampling an my whirlwind initiation into the art of tar-ball sampling, it kind of felt like we’d been on an amusement ride. Helen found a tar bar embedded in a shell as we walked onto the beach, and Pat and I managed to hold our own with some interesting composite samples from the tide line and mid-beach area. But the fun started when we walked off the beach (same place we got on) and found… hundreds of tar balls! And also the remnants of a possible sediment core. Hmm. We kind of overloaded on composite samples and made sure to stow away the core (which we spent some time dissecting tonight), all excited for the great start to the day. What a way to be initiated into the ways of tar bars!
The day continued with stops at Perdido Key, FL, Gulf Shores, AL and Dauphin Island, AL. Four sites in one day is ambitious, but we did good. We were all efficient, Pat instructed us as to what kind of samples he was most interested in and we stuck to our orders. We found really interesting samples on every beach we visited and since we made a couple of adjustments and changes to sampling sites compared to the trip that Pat and Helen took two weeks ago, we have some interesting samples to compare and contrast between sites and sampling dates.
We ended the sampling day walking around Dauphin Island (still looking for samples) and commenting on the herons, the flying (or maybe just flopping?) fish and the numerous sea birds calling out to us. Dinner and Ole Maria’s Mexican Restaurant tided us over (and almost knocked me into a major food coma) till we arrived, weary but content, at our hotel for the night. And just to stay perky (because a 4:15 wake-up and a time difference that causes the southern states to be an hour earlier than PA is not enough to wipe you out at the end of the day) we catalogues all our samples, entered the data and comments into a spreadsheet and then said our goodnights before retreating to our individual blog posts.
All in all, a super exciting day. And we’ll find out tomorrow what the tide brought in to Mississippi!