Dining with a starfish

There’s nothing quite like seeing something in the field. I came to this realisation about half way through my Masters course. When I started, I was a fully-fledged Geoscientist and taking on biological knowledge would have been an immense challenge if it hadn’t been for the engaging, rapid-fire seminars given by Dr Rob Hughes. He was responsible for the series of lectures dubbed the ‘rampage through the phyla’ – a crash course in invertebrate taxonomy, morphology and ecology. Many a lecture was spent sketching the characteristics of a particular family with the urgency of a Pictionary player under pressure, which is how this came about:

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Explosive antics in the field

Colima, Mexico. The goal: unearthing the secrets of Vulcán de Fuego or the “Volcano of Fire”. Fuego erupts roughly every two hours. Nothing major, just an outburst of billowing steam clouds from the summit, generally lasting no more than 10 minutes. These outbursts release pressure in the magma chamber below, and by letting off steam; this active volcano poses little threat to the village of La Añilera, below. However, any change from this typical cycle could hint at an upcoming eruption, so researchers at the University of Colima keep a watchful eye on Fuego’s activity. Today (ahem… some time ago, but we can pretend!), I am playing the part of one such watchful eye.

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