Last Day of Sampling in Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Today was our last day in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. We needed to dismantle our three sampling sites that we set up for the week. This also happened to be the last time that Katelyn, Graham, Agata, and I were going to dismantle sites for the rest of the summer, as the new crew will be taking over next week. The morning was rough because it had rained the night before and everything outside was wet, including our equipment; our pan traps and intercept trap was probably flooded too. Reluctantly, we set out to our barren lands site at Paquette Lake, which as we expected was wet. We had no idea what was in store for us in our pit fall traps, but surely with our experience in the field we should have expected this – they were full of slugs. Now, I’m not sure if you have ever had the pleasure of trying to strain slug slime through a mesh but I’ve got to tell you, it may have been the most excruciating experience we’ve had to deal with this entire trip. Slug slime is made of a protein and therefore sticks together better than water, the molecules are also bigger than water and have a harder time of passing through our mesh and so instead clog the mesh and don’t allow water to pass through. You could imagine how frustrating this was for us when we realised we had ten pitfalls worth of slugs and slug slime in just one site. After trying a few different ways of straining the slug slime / watery soup we had finally developed a relatively time efficient way of dealing with this slimy nightmare. After spending far too long at our first site dealing with the slugs we ventured on to dismantle our other two sites.

Our pit fall sample from Paquette Lake, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which is comprised mostly of slugs.
Our pit fall sample from Paquette Lake, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which is comprised mostly of slugs.

Our next two sites were dealt with in a much quicker fashion but were wetter than the first site. This did not mean much in terms of our samples but it did dampen our pants and socks. Miserably, we endured the wet foliage and the drizzle of water that fell from the canopy of the tree just to find more slugs, how refreshing. Once we got back to the BIOBus after our last site we labeled our catches, cleaned our hands of the slug slime, and breathed a sigh of relief as we changed into dry comfortable clothing. We will be passing on the BIOBus to the next crew (Forest, Carlene, Jill, and Crystal) in Fundy next week.

-Martin

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