Hello faithful readers,
I’d like to start this blog post by saying how glad I am that I was able to take two trips on the BIObus. It’s been a long road, and I enjoyed every beautiful bug, landscape and duct tape filled second of it. It will nice to be home next week, but man was it great to be out. Now, on to the post!
Today was our first day in Pacific Rim National Park we set up our sites in a second growth forest (a “recently” logged area), an old growth forest, and a brambly bog. It’s a beautiful park, where the mountains are in view of the beach, and everything is lush and green, but it sure is a hard place to dig in a line for pitfall cups! The site set up was one of our most grueling, but even with vegetation on every side and the least stable ground we’ve seen so far, we got everything working and started learning the entomological secrets of the park.
I would like to make special mention of my favourite invertebrate of the whole island, the banana slug, (Ariolimax columbianus). These 25cm (almost a foot!) long monsters are everywhere here, and we had to take great care not slip on them! They are the second largest species of slug in the world, with the largest reaching only five centimeters longer, at a full foot. Because of the warm winters and high humidity, these little (or big) guys can move around with relative freedom in their slimy tracks, eating almost any organic matter they can find. They are very cool, and have been on my list to see for a very long time. I was quite a happy camper when we ran into our first one in Gulf Islands, and we’ve seen dozens just today. The locals tend to think of them as pests, but they are so very cool. They have a numbing agent in their slime that, when licked, will cause your tongue to go numb. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m hoping it works as described. As with all slugs they don’t have any jaws, and instead scrape their food with their hard scratchy tongue-like radula. Imagine you couldn’t move your jaw, and had a cheese grater strapped thimble-style on your tongue and you’re halfway to being a slug! Giant slugs are so cool, and I will always remember them and their friendly, almost playful, demeanour.
As I said above, this trip has been fantastic. I’ve learned so much about reptiles and birds from Joey, marine life from Danielle, and how to run a ship of four and deal with a web of contacts flawlessly from Kate. I’ve also learned how to fix almost any RV problem with duct tape and a screwdriver, among a myriad of scientific concepts. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else, and I am so thankful that the people at BIO let me take part in this old girl’s final journey. I am still deeply excited about entomology, and being out here has brought me closer to the wild than I had ever hoped to be in a summer job. Moving on from this experience I hope to see many more fantastic sights and creepy crawlies, but I’m confident that the BIObus will forever have a special spot in my soul. Like I say when we’re preparing to drive, batten down the hatches, and let’s hit the road!