Monday, 30 April 2012

The third year research project

Since the beginning of this academic year in September, I've been busy designing, doing, and writing up my research project. In my degree (Zoology), instead of doing a dissertation like most other universities, we have to do an independent research project. It's basically a piece of scientific work - we decide a question we want to answer, we design an experiment to try and find out the answer to this question, we do the experiment, we statistically analyse the results, and we (at least attempt to) work out what it all means and what implications it'll have for science as a whole.

My project ended up being about how noise in the environment affects zebra finches (which, for those who don't know, are these little birdies...)
When we started thinking about projects at the end of my second year, I decided I didn't feel brave enough to go for a self-generated project (where you design everything for your project yourself), so I wanted to let whoever my supervisor was pick my project for me. Except when I was allocated my supervisor, he basically said I could do whatever I wanted to (definitely not what I signed up for. Thanks(!)). I was partnered with another girl (as we weren't allowed to do field work by ourselves for insurance purposes), and as my uni campus is currently a bit of a building site we decided we wanted to do a project on how noise might affect the behaviour of birds around the campus.

We were assigned a sort of sub-supervisor (who's thankfully been a lot more helpful!) as she does research into how noise affects all sorts of things in zebra finches (stress responses like heart rate, hormones, behaviours etc.), and she helped us develop a method we liked - we were originally a bit ambitious and wanted to see how their patterns of movement changed, how their behaviours changed, and how their foraging rates changed, and we wanted to use 6 different noises. We had our cages all set up and did a first few trials with birds... except the birds sat around and didn't forage at all. Nightmare!

Cue a rapid change in project idea... we cut it down to 3 noise treatments - traffic (an anthropogenic (man-made) noise), rain ( a natural noise) and silence (so we could see what birds naturally do). We also got rid of the idea of looking at movement patterns, and we also got rid of the idea of just looking at foraging rates (because they didn't forage at all...), so we decided to look at how behaviour (mainly vigilance), location within the test cage, and proximity to a companion bird change between the 3 different noise treatments.

Spending hours upon hours in the windowless aviary was very long and boring, but analysing and writing up the data was even longer. In the end, we found that the birds spent the greatest amount of time being vigilant (watching out for predators or other threats), vigilance was highest during the rain noise treatment (which I didn't expect, I would've expected the highest vigilance in the traffic noise that they weren't used to) and lowest in the silence periods (which was exactly what I expected), and birds spend more time vigilant in the second trial we did on them than they did in the first trial (which, again, wasn't expected - I thought they would spend less time vigilant in the second trial because they were used to the noises). Location and proximity didn't change though, which was a shame as it wasn't quite as interesting as I'd hoped.

Writing up my project was a bit of a nightmare. Compared to the traditional dissertation that most uni students do, which is normally 10,000 words, my 5,200-word offering seems a bit pathetic. But designing the project, carrying out the experiment and doing all the statistics on our data, on top of writing the report, ended up being a bit of a mammoth task.

I had everything done ready to be printed and bound into a nice little booklet on Thursday so I could hand it in on Friday (with the deadline of today (Monday)). On Thursday afternoon off I trotted to the reprographics department on campus, I gave them my PDF files of my project and they printed it on nice thick paper and bound it into a professional-looking booklet. I was feeling really proud of myself because woooo, project finished!... but that feeling didn't last long, as when I got home and was showing it off to one of Steve's housemates, he straight away looked at my risk assessment and said "... 3 x 1 doesn't equal 4...". What. An. Idiot. I'd done it twice on the same page too, so no hope of claiming it was a typo.... . A table on that page hadn't printed right either, and when I looked at my reference list I realised I had some citations in the text that weren't in my reference list and some references that I hadn't cited in the text. It irritated me all that evening... do I try and tippex the mistakes in the risk assessment and just hope they don't notice the reference list? Or do I just forget about the £15 I spent on printing and binding and bite the bullet and get it all done again so I can hand in a mistake-free piece? In the end I went for the latter, and once the decision was made I felt so much better about it.

So, on Friday morning, I wandered off up to the library to print it all again. Thanks to a helpful tip-off from a friend about how to print for free on campus (seriously, big thanks, it saved me £7.50), I got it all printed again and got it bound.

Here it is, in all its finished and (hopefully) mistake-free glory...
Isn't it beautiful! *sheds a little tear*

I missed the office opening hours so that I could hand it in on Friday, so I had to get up bright and early to go and hand it in this morning. I did  a little bit of an internal celebratory/victory dance once it was out of my hands, and thanked some sort of god that I wasn't in the same position as one of my housemates (who is only about 1500 words in to his 10,000 word dissertation which is due on Thursday, but that's another story entirely...).

Yaaaaay, it's done! Only exams to go now and then I'm a free woman!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

South Africa 2012: Days 5 and 6

Day 5 – Saturday 7th January 2012

Got up at 5.30am this morning for a 6am walk around the camp at De Hoop. We saw loads of flamingos flying across the lake and then they came to rest on a little sandy island in the middle. When I had a look through my binoculars I saw 2 pelicans on the island too which was really cool. We also saw a barn own which was nesting in an old grain store tower or something, it was cool. It was slightly annoying that we would only stop to look at birds, and whenever I tried to stop to look at a lizard or something I would get told to hurry along. But hopefully this won’t matter and I’ll get loads of time to explore over the next few days (this never happened which was really annoying, especially as the reason why I had no free time was because of something I tried to prevent, but more on that in later days).

The walk was baking hot even though we were only out walking until about 7.45am! I’m really hoping I adjust to this heat quickly as it’s only going to get hotter (I was very right on that point! That morning was mild compared to some of the weather we had the next week!)!
Flamingoes! (plus a pelican, it's the slightly bigger looking bird towards the top left. You can see it if you squint)

I just about managed to have enough free time to cram in a shower before breakfast.I didn’t manage to get a seat at the table again at breakfast (I didn’t manage to get one at dinner last night either) – why me twice?! (just proves how cliquey and selfish people on my course are...)

After breakfast we were told who we were in groups with for our projects – I’m with people I like which should be cool. We spent the rest of the day trying to decide on what to do for our project. Our first idea was to measure the insect diversity in different types of dung (different levels of digestedness, different ages/drynesses, different sizes etc). We went out and collected some samples and decided to mix them with water in order to break them up and see what was in them – it was so disgusting as bits kept flying everywhere and the baboon poo was really fresh and smelly and full of things that looked like tiny little white worms – the other 2 people (both girls) in my group didn’t look like they were bothered at all about touching it but I was really wary because I don’t want to get ill this early on! Luckily it was too difficult to break up the poo and it didn’t look like there were any insects so we gave up on that idea and decided to look at jump length in aposematic vs cryptic grasshoppers. We couldn’t find any of the aposematic species we wanted to use which was disappointing, but we tried out our method with out abundant cryptic grasshopper species anyway so we’re ready to start tomorrow.

Somehow me and one of the other girls in my group didn’t get told that dinner was at 7pm tonight not 7:30pm like it was last night so I ended up not getting a seat for the third night in a row! I found out at dinner that baboons have already started breaking into tents – one guy left a mango in the middle of his tent and the baboons ripped their way into the tent to get it. He was so stupid to do that, and now the baboons are going to keep coming back to go through the rest of our tents!
Beware the baboons... they are watching you from the trees with their evil little eyes, waiting to rip their way into your tent and steal anything that even remotely resembles food...

I didn’t get to go on the night drive tonight but I’m going tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been finding it really difficult to get to sleep tonight because it’s far too hot and I’m scared of baboons coming in. More project work tomorrow. I’m hoping it goes well and we get loads of data and find our illusive rockhopper grasshoppers!

Day 6 – Sunday 8th January 2012

(Not very many photos from today unfortunately. Too much time was wasted on pointless arguments. Blergh.)

Yet another bright and early start this morning to go and look for the rockhopper grasshoppers we need for our experiment. The 2 girls I was working with kept wandering off and leaving me which was really annoying and made me quite upset. I was nearly included back in the group when I thought I’d found the a rockhopper, but it turned out I’d just found some with a little red bit in between their wings, not whole red wings like the ones we were looking for.

We went inside for breakfast at 8:30am and I managed to get a seat of my own for the first time! Breakfast had scrambled egg with it again – hopefully we won’t get it every day because it tastes a bit odd (alas, we did. Every. Single. Day.)
The teeniest lizard I've ever seen!
After breakfast we decided to have a rethink about our project. One of the girls suggested doing a predator defence/escape experiment out in the field involving walking along a transect and seeing how close the “predator” could get to a grasshopper before it jumped away and how far it jumped. When I tried to explain why I thought it was a bad experiment that would be almost impossible to conduct accurately, both of the girls just beat me down and refused to listen to my ideas to try and make the experiment work, and one of them said I was just dragging the whole group down. This really upset me and I was on the verge of tears – I was only trying to do the right thing and improve the project as it’s such a big part of our marks, and I knew that what I’d been saying was exactly what the lecturers would say when we asked them about our project.

Eventually one of the lecturers came over to discuss our new idea with us, and he said exactly what I’d just been saying yet all of his criticisms were instantly accepted! This made me feel bloody angry but also quite smug as I knew that I was right and they were wrong. After talking to the lecturer we finally reached a compromise and decided to use the same idea but do it on the lawn next to the restaurant using a grid system marked out with string to make rough measurement estimates. This turned out not to work either as it was really windy and the grasshoppers were still so easily able to disappear into the grass making it impossible to recapture them for the repeat measurements. I was getting really panicky by this point because half a day of our 2 days of data collection had gone and we still had no project.
Getting pretty close to an ostrich on the path
 FINALLY we agreed to do it in the sheltered, concreted courtyard, and thankfully when we moved there we were able to start getting some pilot data. Unfortunately the bad mood from this morning still remained so whenever we had a problem and I tried to come up with a suggestion for solving it I was either ignored or told we didn’t need to worry about that problem now, only for one of them to suggest the exact same thing later on – ARGH! I’ve been in such a foul mood all day because of this – I feel stupid and useless, and it just reinforces the idea that no-one on this course really likes me and for some reason I’m impossible to get along with (I still feel like this, and not just on this trip but in my life in general. Ho hum, in exactly one month I will have finished my last ever exam and be free from the miserable experience that has been university and free to (fingers crossed) make some new friends...) At least there’s only one more day of data collection left and one further day to do stats and presentations, then I won’t be forced to spend all my time with them. We’re getting to the courtyard for 6am tomorrow morning to do a solid 12 hours of data collection to make up for lost time – I’m absolutely dreading it but it needs to be done and hopefully we’ll all get along better.

Going out on a night drive tonight cheered me up. We saw bontebok, ostrich, a poor lame eland that was probably going to die soon L, and a nightjar (that I probably would have spotted before everyone else but I couldn’t decide if it was a rock or an animal!). I found it really difficult to see the animals’ eyeshine (light reflecting on their eyes, which is basically the only way you can spot animals when it’s pitch black. And I mean literally pitch black, there was zero light pollution like there is in any town or anywhere vaguely near a road), and I kept getting confused by light reflecting off insects! (it’s a really big thing on a course like mine to have super-sharp animal spotting skills, and there’s massive glory associated with spotting something cool / illusive / rare / that hasn’t already been seen on this trip. All the twitchers (hyper-dedicated bird watchers) were desperate to see a nightjar, and I was desperate to be the first one to spot something, so I was gutted that I only realised the nightjar wasn’t a rock when it flew up from where it was sitting on the road!)
A bontebok (not the one we saw on the night drive though, in case that wasn't obvious...)

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Cool or cruel?

A while ago I came across this post on someone else's blog. The post was showing off the taxidermied giraffe head and neck that the blogger's hunter husband had shot, and they are now displaying in their house.

I want to add in at this point that I have never read this blog before, so my impressions are simply going on the content of this post and the comments people have left on it.

The blogger stated that she had been told that the giraffe had had a long life and was "on its last leg", and that its meat was donated to some tribespeople. Fair enough that the meat had been given to people who would make use of it once the animal had died, which is entirely what I think should be done as it shouldn't go to waste if someone else can make use of it. What I can't understand is how saying "oh it was old so it was probably going to die soon anyway" is justification for it being hunted and killed. How did the hunter know when it was going to die? And why did he think he had the right to decide when the poor creature should die, and that he should be the one who takes its life? It should have been allowed to live out its life to full term and die naturally. I'd be interested to find out what he does with the bits that he doesn't want from the rest of his kills.

However, what shocked me the most was not the content of the post itself, but the comments left on it. Some were along the lines of "wow, that's awesome, I want one" but there were a lot that said something like "that's cruel, but it's soooo cute!!!" There were also a lot of comments saying "my husband is a hunter too and I've told him we're never having deer heads on display in our house, but now I really want a giraffe head!".

Erm... is it just me that thinks when you find something cruel that kind of rules out any chance of it also being cute? If you think it's cruel, why would you want it on display in your home? And what's the difference between the head of a deer and the head of a giraffe?! They're both animals, and they're both in the same order (Artiodactyla), so they're not completely separate from each other. If anything, isn't hunting a giraffe worse? Their population numbers are much lower than population numbers of deer, they're longer-lived and they aren't as widespread.

Regardless, why should a human be allowed to take the life of an animal purely for enjoyment? Fair enough if people are hunting for food that they need to survive, or to control population numbers for conservation, or to protect themselves from animals that are endangering their lives, but simply going out and shooting animals for fun and for a trophy to take home is something I can never agree with. Surely the animal was much more beautiful alive and out in its natural habitat than it is dead, stuffed and eternally static. Or is it because it's unusual and you can say that hardly anyone else has one that makes it an attractive item to have?

I know there are private reserves where animals are bred purely to be hunted, but I still don't think that makes it right. Yes, it's better than illegal poaching and/or killing an animal that's "in the wild", but it's still taking the life of an animal for the sake of it and simply for the hunter's own pleasure. And there's a whole debate about whether having a legal element to otherwise illegal activities (e.g. hunting on reserves where the animals are bred for hunting, allowing trade in legally harvested products brings down the amount of illegal hunting that occurs, or whether it actually increases it... (see here (elephants and rhinos), here (tigers), here (rhinos) and here (a variety of species, and a brief explanation of CITES) for examples, but there's hundreds more brought up through a quick Google search).

I don't know, maybe I'm just overreacting. And maybe it's because I'm doing a degree in Zoology that I have a lot more respect for and understanding of animals, and can see the reasons why killing one animal often has further repercussions that aren't obvious to people that don't have a knowledge of animal science. Or maybe I'm not in the minority and there are a lot of other people that feel the same was I do...?

I'd be very interested in hearing other people's thoughts on the issue, so please leave a comment!

Friday, 13 April 2012

South Africa 2012: Days 3 and 4

Day 3 - Thursday 5th January 2012

I got up nice and early this morning to go shark watching. We left at 7.10am to go to a town near Gansbaai, and it took about an hour to get there. When we arrived we sat around for a while before hacing a safety briefing about the boat trip. We were told we could dive in the shark cage which would have been amazing, but then one of the lecturers said we couldn’t as the uni insurance won’t allow it. Understandable but still disappointing.
People seriously need to be told not to touch the sharks?!
 We got on board the boat, and I sat downstairs at the front. As we were pulling away from the shore I saw my first seal! It dived back into the water just as the boa went past. The waves were huge just as we left the shore and it felt like the boat was literally leaping out of the water!

It took about 10 minutes to get out to the location where the boat crew dropped the baited shark cage. We then sailed for another 10 minutes or so across to Dyer Island where there was a massive seal colony. They were literally covering the rocks and there were loads in the water too. There must’ve been literally hundreds of them! They didn’t seem at all phased by the boat as they stayed where they were as we floated past. They were making funny noises and they smell weird – more like a farm than a seal colony! We spotted a few more penguins and Cape Cormorants as we headed back to the shark cage.

Hundreds of Cape Cormorants
Hundreds of seals!
Seals in the water :D
When we got back to the cage, the boat crew threw in a rubber float in the shape of a seal which they used as a lure, and a float with tuna heads on it which was used as bait. The lure and bait were both attached to ropes, and they crew kept pulling the ropes in and throwing them back out to draw the sharks in.

After about 10 minutes, the first sharks appeared. At first they were just swimming around the boat so we just saw the tops of their fins, but after a while the boat crew started pulling the bait and lure out of the water as the shark went to bite them to encourage them to jump out of the water. The sharks were fairly small – well, they were about 3m long so pretty big, but not as big as I’d expected. It was really cool seeing their faces too as they jumped out of the water. At one point a shark grabbed onto the lure and didn’t want to let go. It started shaking its head, as if it were killing some prey. At one point there were 2 sharks swimming around the boat. They were coming really close to where we were sitting which was amazing.

I did think all of this was a bit cruel though – we were winding the sharks up and drawing them in to where they wouldn’t normally be. One of the sharks was also missing the top of its dorsal fin because it had been bitten off by another shark when they were baiting them in.
Poor shark with its fin tip missing :(
The one picture I managed to get of a shark's face
We had to end the trip after about 3 hours as a lot of people were getting really violently seasick. Luckily (based on some previous very nasty experiences!) I took a seasickness tablet so I was fine.

We got back to land and headed back to the campsite. I decided to go on an optional walk to the fynbos at Fernkloof nature reserve. It was baking hot because we got there at about 2.30pm and we’d hardly walked anywhere before I felt sweaty and gross – I don’t know how I’m going to survive a proper fynbos walk tomorrow!
Helmeted guinea fowl
We’ve got to be up and completely packed by 7.10am tomorrow (including taking the tent down) before the second group leave to go to the sharks so we’re ready to move to the next camp at De Hoop. I’m looking forward to going there because there’s apparently lots more wildlife that we can see from the camp.

It still hasn’t quite sunk in that I’m in Africa. Hopefully going to De Hoop and seeing all the cool animals will make it feel more real!

Day 4 - Friday 6th January 2012

Just about managed to get up and get the tent packed for our 7am deadline – one girl in my group took forever to pack her bag, then she got really antsy because we were running late packing up the tent and it was running very slightly into breakfast time, so she disappeared with 2 other girls from our group to go and have breakfast leaving me and the only other person in the group to finish packing the tent. It was really difficult and I got so frustrated. I’m not letting her do that when we move to the camp at Addo!

After breakfast we had a couple of hours free to relax in the sunshine before we had to leave at 9am to go to the fynbos at Fernkloof.

A lovely lady called Pat was our guide on the walk. She was probably about 70 years old yet she was so fit and active and bounded up the hills, showing us interesting plants along the way. We started the walk at the bottom of a mountain and walked up to a small mountain peak. It was very tiring and it was baking hot in the sunshine. When we got to the top of the mountain though it was so worth it – the views were amazing, out across the fynbos and out to sea. The walk back down the mountain was nice and a lot easier than the way up! We stopped in a little forested area that had once had a waterfall, but they fynbos is having a severe drought so it had pretty much dried up. There was a little pool at the bottom still though – it had loads of frogs in it and I even spotted a crab just before we left (it was literally a big puddle so the fact that there was a crab living in it amazed me!).
Paths snaking their way up the mountains

These are called "seven year flowers" by the local people - the fynbos has so little water that all the plants that live there have had to adapt so they don't die. These flowers have so little water in them that the petals are bone dry and feel like plastic, so you can cut some and keep them for years without them losing their colour :)
We finished our walk at 12 and set off to meet the group that went to the sharks. We were driving for about 6 hours – we stopped at a Super Spar for snacks for our week at De Hoop and for a toilet break. We kept stopping along the way to look at birds, eland, rhebok, yellow mongoose and other things. At one point, just after the Super Spar, we turned down a road and suddenly stopped – there was a massive bush fire just ahead, and even as we were parked up at the side of the road while the lecturers decided what to do the fire got ever closer, rapidly getting to within less than 100m of us! We turned around sharpish and headed in the opposite direction.

A couple of hours into the drive the roads turned from tarmac into dirt, rocky roads. It was really bumpy and dusty in the van but I got used to it after a while. I think I even managed to fall asleep a few times. We had an interesting incident on some train tracks on the way... the train tracks on the dirt roads don’t have barriers or proper level crossings so you just have to look and drive. We were just driving over a level crossing when a car overtook at high speed and beeped its horn, and I’m pretty sure my heart missed a beat because I thought we were about to get annihilated by a train. Definitely one of the scariest moments of my life!

We eventually arrived at De Hoop at about 6pm and set about finding a pitch for our tent and putting the tent up. Somehow we managed to pitch the tent badly, probably because we were in a confined space, so the bottom was too big for the top and the sides didn’t peg to the floor correctly. I’ve had to put all my food and my shampoo in one of the vans because there are baboons that roam the campsite and we don’t want to attract them in with offers of food or mango scented shampoo! The showers and toilets here are so much nicer than at the last place – the toilets have toilet roll and the showers have lights and a little changing area in each cubicle – the last place had none of these things!
Baboooons! They'll become my best friends during this trip...
A proper "Africa tree", like something in The Lion King. Definitely starting to sink in that I'm in Africa now!
We had a discussion this evening about speciation and how it occurs in fynbos plants when there’s very poor soil and little water. It was quite interesting and I actually managed to say stuff for a change (we’ve had lots of assessed discussions this year and I normally always end up in a group with loudmouths who never bloody shut up meaning I can’t get a word in edgeways, which has lead to a lot of very poor marks this year and taken any chance of getting a first out of my reach). Another bright and early start tomorrow morning to go and explore De Hoop and see what’s out there – fingers crossed I see some cool things!

Monday, 9 April 2012

South Africa 2012 - Days 1 and 2

Soooo I've finally got round to typing up my journal from South Africa (when I really should be revising and finishing my research project, considering I had an awful dream last night in which it was 3 days before the deadline and I hadn't even finished my project, let alone had the thing printed and bound ready to hand in or even gone back to Cornwall...).

I'm going to post 2 days worth at a time, and I might schedule the posts to come up every 4 days or so so it's not all over in one rush. Plus that gives me time to type it all up and put lots of photos in each post :). The little notes in green are things that I've added since the trip.

(Does anyone else find Blogger's method of adding pictures to a post really time consuming and annoying? Normally it just takes forever to upload pictures and move them to where you want them to be in the post, but this time it just failed on me completely. I've had to redo this whole post because once I tried to start moving pictures around the whole thing just went blank even though apparently all the content of the post was still there when I looked at it in the HTML editor. Argh! Is there some clever way around this that I'm completely missing?!)

So without further ado, here's what I got up to on the first 2 days of my trip to South Africa. Enjoy! :)

Day 1 – Tuesday 3rd January 2012 

Got to the airport at about 2.50pm this afternoon ready to get on the plane to Africa! Luckily when I got to the airport I bumped into the lecturers so I was one of the first in the queue to check in.

The rest of the group had been upstairs in a cafĂ©, so once we’d all checked in and gone through security we headed to duty free to buy some last minute bits and some food and wait for the next few hours before we could board. 
The plane!
On the plane I sat in the middle of the middle row of the plane - definitely my least favourite place to be. The flight was 12 hours long – I tried to watch films but I couldn’t stay awake, and I tried to sleep but couldn’t sleep for long before something woke me up or I got cramp in my leg. Finding a comfortable position was really awkward!

Day 2 – Wednesday 4th January 2012

Arrived in South Africa (finally!) this morning at about 10am (8am UK time).
The amazing ostrich made from beads in the arrivals hall at Cape Town airport
After we’d been through security, collected our bags and stocked up with suncream and water, we headed out into the heat of South Africa. It was shaded in the car park and there was a nice breeze so it wasn’t as hot as I’d expected it to be. We were given lunch boxes which were really fancy – corrugated cardboard boxes tied up with ribbon, and inside there was – a spicy chicken salad wrap, biltong, brie and dates (maybe?) on a stick, red grapes, a fruit and nut mix and a chocolate brownie. I was surprised at how nice the biltong was – I’d always thought it would be disgusting!
A South African Kinder Egg, which is nothing like the Kinder Eggs we have here. When you open it it splits into two plastic halves - one half has a chocolate paste (a bit like Nutella, except you get milk chocolate and white chocolate paste) with 2 crunchy ball things on it (like the crunchy stuff in a Kinder Bueno) plus a little spatula to eat it with, and the other half has the toy in.
We then got into minibuses and headed to our first location – Stony Point penguin colony. The penguin colony was really cool, there were loads more than I was expecting and as they were moulting they were mostly just standing still because they couldn’t go in the water.
 Our “learning” for the day was about how penguin thermoregulate – they pant, and they turn their black backs to the sun as even though black absorbs the heat it doesn’t radiate the heat internally, so its organs are protected (as the organs are on the front side). We then had to think up a hypothesis for why penguins show the thermoregulatory behaviour that they do. We then tested these hypotheses in small groups – my group looked to see if there was a difference in panting/gaping between moulting and non-moulting adults – it didn’t look like there was from our results!
 We also saw a few dassies/rock hyraxes at the penguin colony. They’re pretty sweet and look like a cross between guinea pigs and cats. Virginia McKenna has one as a pet in Born Free, and I didn’t know what one was until I’d seen that film – now I’ve seen them wild! We also saw a cool blue and yellow lizard that I’ll try and identify later (it was a Southern Rock Agama).
Southern Rock Agama

After we’d been to the penguins we went on to the campsite. It’s called Paradise Park and it’s just outside Hermanus. We collected our tents and set to work putting them up. They’re all 6-man tents and they’re huge. The sleeping compartment has lots of space and then there’s another even bigger compartment that we’re keeping all of our stuff in. 4 other girls.

After we’d put up our tent we had to make a poster with a graph of our penguin experiment results on it, then we had a quick discussion about what our results showed.

After the discussion was over it was time for dinner. The food was a bit odd – we were given some meat (I think it was pork), then could choose from lots of other different things but they were all orange/yellow/beige and I had no idea what was in them. In the end I went for some bread and butter and some pasta – not the most exciting meal I’ve ever had!

Once dinner was over I was so tired that all I wanted to do was head to bed. I’m up at 6am tomorrow to be ready to leave at 7.10am to go and see some Great White Sharks! Not braving the showers tonight because even though I feel gross I don’t want to risk a cold shower and have wet hair all night as it’s fairly chilly here.