Last weekend Leslie and I traveled to the East Bay so Leslie could participate in BAYMAC. That stands for Bay Area Marine Aquarium Conference, a gathering of reefers - people whose hobby is salt-water aquarium keeping. In spite of what I might have thought at first, "reefers" refers to the ocean reefs where the many fascinating plants and animals originate.
Curious little marine beasties often hitch rides hidden inside corals and other things as they travel from those far-away reefs to their new homes in suburban aquaria. Eventually these animals grow larger and mystify the eager reefer. Experts must be called upon to identify the unknown critters. Leslie is such an expert.
And so it was last Saturday, in the cafeteria of Chabot College in Hayward California, that Leslie spent many hours seated below a sign reading (I kid you not) Spineless Marine Life Visual Identification Booth. Hundreds of people shuffled to and fro, looking at high-tech lights, glass tanks, small corals from which mighty reefs might grow, sea-water mix, jars of live copepods and who knows what all else. You can see pictures here. Some of these people brought Leslie crap from the bottom of their tanks and asked her "What is that little thing crawling around inside there?". Leslie is someone who knows the answer to that question. She knows because she's an expert. According to Leslie the word of the day was detritivore.
I made the trip with her so we could spend some time with our friends Mike Boom and Lynn Morton. Mike obligingly loaned Leslie the microscope, video camera and monitor for her presentation. I've known Mike since before he gave up playing the oboe to devote his life to being a mushroom-hunting, underwater-video-making computer technical writer. Lynn met Mike when she was a ballerina. Here's a picture of the two of them together. It clearly shows their relative distances above sea-level.
You can watch Mike's videos at Laughing Eel Underwater Video. Unlike some people (e.g. me) who carry all their video equipment around in one pocket, Mike travels the globe with hundreds of pounds of dive gear, video cameras and computers. The results he gets are pretty spectacular. Here's another picture of Mike taken while hunting for edible mushrooms near their home.
Lynn has turned the backyard of their house into a veritable outdoor aviary where dozens of wild bird feeders, many positioned right in front of windows, produced a constant flurry of colorful activity. This fascinating "bird television" impressed both Leslie and me a lot. The birds give Mike and Lynn's cat ample opportunities to stalk and the bird feeders give the local squirrels ample reason to hang about, waiting for a dropped seed or kernel. I made a short video of one patient squirrel. It proves that I do not carry a tripod in my pocket. Last night I composed some music to go with it. You can guess what comes next.
The Squirrel In Mike and Lynn's Aviary © 2011 David Ocker 138 seconds
Detritivore Tags: reefer. . . Laughing Eel. . . Mike Boom. . . Lynn Morton