Thursday, July 4, 2013



It's been a long night. Now, somehow, I am sitting on an autobus parked in the bowels of a huge ferryboat. There are half a dozen other buses down here too, crammed in so close that a person couldn’t walk between them. Leaning my face against the cool of the window beside me, I breathe in diesel fumes and think of Russian dolls, all nested inside of one another. Here I am nested inside the bus, nested inside the boat, floating on the sea.

Soon enough, we are docked and the bus rumbles forth onto winding mountain roads. This is Vanua Levu, Fiji’s northern Island. All variety of greens fly past the window, betraying the depths of forest all around. When the trees break, there is the cerulean sea, laced with light like silver wire.

In Fiji, I am drunk on color. It is a lovely intoxication, unique to the tropics.

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A week has passed now, and the lab is back in Suva. We head home in four days, and are finished with the research component of the expedition. Now it’s just a matter of securing export permits and saying our goodbyes.

The end of June was spent on Vanua Levu, sampling from reefs around the village of Naigigi. Fish were collected from spur and groove habitat and from several shallow patch reefs. The work went well, with 108 species taken from ten sites in country. We took gill tissue for genetic analysis from each individual and fixed the animals in formalin to supplement the ichthyology collections of The American Museum of Natural History.

Back stateside, things will continue to move quickly. There will be an instant in California to say goodbye to the ones I love, and then it’s on to NYC to get these samples processed and catalogued. Oh, and to brave the Manhattan apartment hunt…yikes! Keep you posted.


P.S. Habib Koite and Bamada have been an irresistable fixture this trip. They are crooning through my headphones as I write. Check it:


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