Posted by: Aquatic Exposure | December 27, 2012

Christmas en la Playa

So this Christmas things were a little different than what I’ve become accustomed to.  I chose to make my way down to Costa Rica become the New Year so that I could be settled and ready to work for PRETOMA in January.  So far everything is going according to plan; I have my temporary residency as a scientist and am in the process of obtaining my scientific passport through MINAET, I have made it to both of the fishing communities Coyote and Bejuco to be introduced and trained for data collection. With this all done before Christmas I decided to take a trip to a beach. I worked at Playa Caletas in 2007 as a research assistant for a nesting turtle monitoring program.  When I got there I found out that not only would I be spending Christmas on the beach with nesting turtles, but actress Tonya Kay was also there supporting our work!

As usual then heavy 10ft wave beach break was pounding the coastline of Caletas. The hot sun and scorching sand made it tricky to find our way down the beach in search of young coconuts.  After making it back to camp with several in tow, our trusty machete opened one of our many christmas treats.  The refreshing coconut water was well worth the trek.

As the evening progressed we were given another christmas treat when a nest of turtles began to hatch. We were ready and set up with lights and cameras to catch this amazing action unfold.  This event lasted 30 minutes and I am still editing down the footage! Don’t worry I will post the video as soon as I can.

But my final surprise came upon returning to Coyote.  Erick Lopez, the project lead here, had teamed up with a Church group from Cartago to bring Christmas to the fishing villages of Bejuco and Coyote.  With a list of over 200 children’s names we have spent the last two days bringing needed gifts, clothing, and food to the surrounding community.  PRETOMA truly is a grassroots organization that is seeking to improve the day-to-day lives of the community they are a part of.

So proud to have been a small part of Christmas here.

Posted by: Aquatic Exposure | December 15, 2012

The importance of paper work

For the last week I have been living in Tibas, San Jose, Costa Rica. This is where the head office of PRETOMA is located, just one bus (cuarto reines x tibas) away from downtown San Jose. From San Jose, it has been relatively easy to find my way around.  

One bus (Sabana Cementerio) to get to the Canadian Embassy where I registered as a Canadian living abroad; another (Alajuela) to get to the immigration office.  However, I did need a taxi to make my 6am appointment with the Ministry of Public Security for fingerprinting.  Thankfully the official translator I needed for several documents lived a short walk around the corner.  I am now ready to make my application for temporary residency as a visiting scientist. This phase should be finished off early next week with a bit of luck.

Now I can start to shift my focus from immigration to playing catch up on the scientific work that has been done over the last 4 years.  Preliminary observations of reports and data seem to suggest that I will be learning about several species of pacific eels that very few people have ever written about.  

Since pictures of my fingerprints don’t seem too exciting. I have posted some photos of a field trip to a reforestation area that I went on with students from the Universidad de Costa Rica.  Check them out in the Photo Log.

Posted by: Aquatic Exposure | December 7, 2012

Packed up and hitting the skies

This morning the alarm bells rung out at 0130.  I still had to haul my four bags out of the living room in St.Catharines, so I was in no hurry to get out of bed.  I knew as long as I actually made it to the car I would make my 0615 flight (YYZ to ATL).  This marks the beginning of the next year of my life.  From Atlanta on to San Jose, Costa Rica, I now hold a position as a sustainable fisheries intern with PRETOMA (  This Costa Rican NGO has been doing conservation work since 1999, now I will have the chance to learn how they have been so successful over the years.

Giving myself the weekend to get my bearings, I may have to check out the quarter final match between Heredia and Saprissa.  Vamos Monstros!  After the weekend is over it will be down to business. With the ministry of public security, translators, Canadian consulate, and immigration to visit it is going to be a busy week.

Posted by: Aquatic Exposure | December 3, 2012

M.Sc Biology Complete

Thank you Queen’s University! After a great defence and a few rounds of editing my thesis has been accepted. My M.Sc Biology focused on the diverging trends of fish mercury concentrations in fresh water lakes of Ontario. The project studied lake sediments to understand how atmospheric depositions have been recorded through time. It has been these depositions that have ultimately led to the changes in fish mercury seen over the last 100 years.

This coring setup was used to extract soft, organic sediments from boreal lakes in Ontario

This coring setup was used to extract soft, organic sediments from boreal lakes in Ontario.

Posted by: Aquatic Exposure | November 30, 2011

Accepting a Digital Age

Having grown up near Niagara Falls, Ontario the wonders of life out-of-doors have always been a source of inspiration for me.  As a Boy Scout, I had the good fortune to work at the Haliburton Scout Reserve (’99,’00) where for two summers I spent my days paddling on Kennabi Lake.  In those days bringing electronics into the wilderness was very much frowned upon.  In fact if you were caught with a gameboy, walkman, or anything battery powered besides a flashlight there was a good chance it would be confiscated.

While my appreciation and understanding of nature has grown over the last decade, I choose not kept up with the technological advances that were once so openly discouraged.  It wasn’t until a canoe trip this summer (’11) in Killarney Provincial Park  that I decided to embrace the digital age.  Photography was my catalyst. By capturing nature in the act and documenting my experiences I hope to share some of my exposures to the natural world.

Check back soon as new projects are in the works! I’ll do my best to keep up with my lastest aquatic exposures; jumping in puddles in a wet Kingston November, sampling water for a lake acidification study, or conducting biomonitoring of mercury as a contaminant in aquatic life.

I’ll post it here first.

Keeping it clean.