A few months ago, after posting the above image on Twitter, I was contacted by Natalie Sopinka, who writes for the "Back Page" section of the American Fisheries Society's magazine (Fisheries) to share the story behind this photograph. You can find the full-text of the article at this link. Here, I wanted to share a few additional photographs about what it's like to work in the intertidal after dark.
What are the conditions like at night compared to daytime?
- Interview Excerpt, Intertidal after Dark, Sopinka & Barner
As the sun sets, it becomes exponentially more difficult to get work done, so we often arrive at a site hours early, waiting for the first chance to work as the tide "goes out". Ideally, the most difficult tasks are done in the remaining light, however dim. For example, above, we are counting thousands of tiny mussels and barnacles on the rock within the white PVC square "quadrats". We use quadrats to make sure we always are counting plants and animals in the same sized area - a square quarter-meter. This way, all of our data are comparable.
Getting darker and darker.
The tools of the trade: PVC pipes, waterproof cameras, rulers, pencils & Rite in the Rain paper, headlamps and our trusty brightly colored "foulies"
PVC pipes (left) can be easily assembled (and disassembled) into a stable frame to hold a camera - especially at night when the dim light means camera shutter is open for longer and thus the camera must be very still to capture a clear picture. We often take pictures (center) in standardized ways (with a ruler, or with a consistently sized plot) to speed up the fieldwork process. Take pictures now - analyze later! (right) Headlamp illuminates a clipboard of waterproof paper, our datasheets.
Animals in the dark
(clockwise from top left) Pycnopodia helianthoides, a limpet cruises across a nice bare rock, a field of purple sea urchins, and Henricia leviuscula amid the urchins