30 Jul GPS stands for “Gross Pond Smell”
For the past few weeks, I have been mapping out the edges of ponds around Jamestown Island with a Trimble GPS system. On the bigger ponds, I can stand in the middle and “shoot” the edges of the pond, which saves me a difficult struggle through the mud and muck that tend to trap the boots of my waders and refuse to let go. On smaller ponds, I carry a pole with the satellite coordination system attached to the top, which grabs the position I am in and creates a map with the exact coordinates to better inform us of pond sizes and areas. The ponds that I end up mapping are usually not too large, but today I was surprised by a massive pond just off the Jamestown tour roads!
I donned my chest waders, and while Melissa conducted her in depth vegetation survey at the edges of the pond, I made my way to the middle of the pond. It was too big to walk the edges of, so I knew I needed to point and shoot the edges in order to get a mapped area. I stayed in view of Melissa so the two of us could keep an eye on each other, and walked out into the middle of the pond.
Well, I tried to. I immediately ran into the biggest crab I had ever seen in my life! I was entranced by the not-so-little guy, and ended up standing at the edge of the pond, watching it catch some lunch for a few minutes. When he finally saw me, he scuttled away, and I remembered my mission – GPS points!
When I got to a good place in the middle of the pond and worked on getting myself situated with the equipment, I was hit by a wave of horrible smell. The stench of rotten eggs was nauseating, and I called out to Melissa to see if she smelled it too – lucky for her, she smelled nothing that I did. I realize now that it was the release of sulfur below my feet as I stirred up sediments that are almost never disturbed, in a pond that was stagnant for the most part. Nasty smell, but at least it didn’t last too long!
I stood in one end of the pond for a bit, shooting the edges to grab the mapped area, before realizing I needed to go further down as the GPS couldn’t properly grab points on the far end of the pond (that’s how big this pond was!)
So I headed to a spot that was two-thirds of the way down the length of the pond, where I set up next to a fallen tree. The water was deeper than expected, and I found myself lucky to be wearing chest and not hip waders in no time. Prior to my work this summer, I never knew that there was a distinction, let alone that I would be happy about it! Before starting to point and shoot the points, I looked down at the tree lying in the water beside me, noticing the abundance of fish gathered around the bark and circling my waders. They were thrilled to hang out with me while I shot the edges of the pond, marking it best as I could.
Despite stinky ponds and getting stuck in the muck, today was another day of enjoying my time out in the field. Can’t wait to see what surprises the next field day will bring!