13 May 2017 Weather does not stop playing against us. Cold and rain are back, and frogs are inactive once more. This is the tricky face of fieldwork, it does not matter how much you plan a field trip, how much you design your sampling or even if you add extra days for safety. If weather conditions turn against you, there is little you can do. It’s clear now that this #ChernobylFrogs17 field trip is not going a be a great success. We have increased our experience in the Zone, our experience with treefrogs, and collected some good material, although much fewer individuals and localities than the initially planned. No doubt that we will be back here next year. Hopping for better weather and more frogs.
Today we started the day working in the lab, after the classic local breakfast of an omelette of ca. 6 eggs for each our us!! We set up again all our lab and sampled the 13 frogs collected last night in our high radiation locality.
With Pablo and I working together in the lab things went pretty fast. All the frogs were processed in about 3 hours. Yes, around 15 minutes for each frog. It may sound a bit too much, but our sampling includes a photo for color analysis, basic size measurements, two microbiome samples, two liver samples, blood analyses, sperm samples, four different muscle tissue samples, and the collection of the tibiofibula for estimating the age of every individual. A total of ten different micro vials for each frog.
After the work, we enjoyed a great lunch in our field station prepared by our ucranian colleagues. Having finished with the work also allowed me to have free time to fix the last details of a press report about our work that will came out on Sunday in a Spanish newspaper. It’s going to be great. Stay tuned.
After our usual early dinner, we moved to the field. The weather, once again, was not very promising. After a cloudy and rainy day, our expectations were on of lower side, for saying the least. We choose to try to catch frogs on the eastern side of the Exclusion Zone, on the other side of Pripyat river, and area of medium contamination levels (high in some specific areas).
We visited this Zone already last year, collecting frogs in three different localities. Weather was cloudy and not too cold when we arrived. Even Sergey was optimistic!! But, our initial fear become a true reality. In the first locality we only hear one very, very, distant frog. Nothing on the second spot. A lonely male calling on the third place. We headed back to base, empty handed. Again.
Next night will be quite probably the last for us here for this year. As I said at the beginning, this is not going to be a very successful trip. We have collected good, valuable, samples that will increase the sampling size of some of our studies. But we are going to be very short of samples for others. The first, you will see the published. For the others, we will need to wait and came back next year. And also wait and hope for some of the applied projects to get funded!!
For tomorrow the weather forecast is just a bit better, warmer but probably still rainy. We will be back to the same areas as last night, hoping for a bit of lack and some few more frogs.
Wildlife in general was not very active today. The more interstate animals we saw were three southern white-breasted hedgehogs (Erinaceus concolor), a first for me.
Spending the morning in the lab, and no much time in the field during the night, mean that our total accumulated dose only raised 6 microSv, from 92 to 98 microSv.