Project: Funded!

17 12 2012

After 33 days of nail biting, annoying spamming all my dear friends and family, and cajoling strangers into coughing up their hard-earned dough, my crowfunding experience has come to a close.  Although I didn’t quite reach my goal of $2,500, making $1,990 is nothing to cry about.  I am in awe of everyone’s generosity!  I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

 

Black abalone on San Nicolas Island (B. Blaud)

Black abalone on San Nicolas Island (B. Blaud)

What next, you ask?  First off, I’m going to stop slacking on my blogging responsibilities.  I apologize.  Sometimes, when I have a lot going on in my life, I have to drop one or two balls that I’m juggling or else I risk them all falling and hitting me on the head.  I have had enough bruises from past experiences to learn that lesson the hard way.  So while I haven’t been updating you as diligently as promised, I have been busy, getting new material for posts and always, always, always working on my project.

 

Second, I’m going to spend my money!  I love shopping!!!  But my RocketHub funds will be responsibly spent on small, white particles the size of abalone sperm.  I just got back from SNI, where I had an amazing trip and completed a successful extended run, and hope to repeat that experience with particles I purchase using what you all generously donated.

 

Third, I’m going to put my spawning practices to use by releasing live gametes in tide pools and find out how realistic my project design is.  And then… a lot of data analysis and writing.  That’s when all the free coffee I get at work at Starbucks will really come in handy, because sleep will become an expensive luxury.

 

So, while this quick update has been short and sweet, I wanted to get a HUGE THANK YOU out there to all my incredible funders.  Seriously, thank you.thankyou

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My Thankful List :)

22 11 2012

On this wonderful holiday, full of stuffing my face with turkey and pumpkin pie (oh, how I love you, pumpkin pie), I thought I would take a second to reflect over my last year and tell you all about what I’m really thankful for.

The beginning of the hike down Heartbreak Hill (B. Blaud)

 

Last year, on Thanksgiving, around this time of 11:14am, I was preparing to go out in the field on San Nicolas Island.  We were headed to Site 8, which involves a 2-mile hike to get to our chosen tide pool.  The hike to the site isn’t so bad, all down hill and passed hauled out California sea lions and elephant seals, a bit brutal on the knees but nothing to stress about.  The run itself went smoothly, which was a blessing following the devastating failure the day before.  The sperm-sized particles were clogging the tube and not flowing consistently, so we tried removing the drip trap and connecting the tube directly to the bag the night before.  It worked, and I had my second complete, successful run.

 

After the run was completed, all the samples collected and everything packed back into my backpack, we took turns carrying the burden back up the hill.  The first 1 ½ mile back isn’t back, but the last ½ mile involves a 600-foot climb, which is, in a word, BRUTAL!  To save my pride, I insist on looking for whales in the ocean every 100-feet or so (ok, sometimes every 50-feet.  Don’t judge!).

 

E.O.D.B. (B. Blaud)

Once we reach the top of the mountain, we celebrate our success and survival summiting Heartbreak Hill (as the hill was christened decades ago) with an End Of the Day Beer (EODB), kept chilled in a cooler of ice.  Nothing tastes as sweet as a cold beer at the end of a long day of fieldwork and good hike.  When we get back to Nick Town, I cleaned off my equipment and stored my samples for safe travel back to Seattle while the rest of the team started on dinner, and what a dinner it was! Turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, green bean casserole, warm rolls, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and lots of wine.  Yum!!!

 

 

Mike Kenner’s improvised turkey baster (B. Blaud)

This trip and the following trips were great opportunities following the loss of funding.  March and April were spent measuring particles in my numerous water samples and analyzing the results.  During the summer though, I hit a bit of a slump.  I was no longer doing fieldwork, all my samples were processed and analyzed, and my future fieldtrips were months away.  I became unmotivated and uninspired.  I was still faced with the same lack of funding, so circumstances looked pretty bleak.  Everything always works out though, and I know this!  I just had to hold on, keep working and doing my best, but sometimes, you lose sight.  To promote my project and let you all know what I’ve been up to, I started this blog.  In writing about what got me into researching abalone and what an amazing species they are, I started to get excited again.  I fell in love with my research all over again.  I describe this in my interview with Anthony in his Notebook.

 

 

SciFund – Black Abalone Dating Service

At a conference at the end of September, when discussing the situation I was in with a fellow researcher, they suggested I try crowfunding on RocketHub.  It was less than a week later that I received an email from SAFS about fundraising through SciFund, which is promoted on RocketHub.  Everything is worth a try, so I went for it.  This bring us up to present, Thanksgiving Day of 2012, and my thankful list:

 

Mainly, I’m thankful for my friends and family, who have unconditionally supported me.  You have cheered my successes; been my shoulder to cry on; offered advice, ideas, and support; read my writings and drafts; and most importantly, are there.

I’m thankful for all my fuelers generous support.  On RocketHub, I have raised $1,150 and am at 46% of my goal with 22 days left.  I’m confident and optimistic that we will get there!

I am in awe of the wonderful opportunity I have to work with an incredibly species in a truly relevant field of conservation biology and ecology.  I’m doing what I love, and someday (hopefully sooner rather than later) will have a piece of paper that says all of you must call me Master.  That’s what a Master’s degree means, right?

I should also mention that I’m thankful for this blog, for reminding me what I do and why, and why I love it.  Sometimes, we just need to be reminded.  It’s actually been a busy month so far with my project and the fundraising; so much so that I have struggled keeping up with my promised 3 posts a week, but will work on it and do better!

 

So in closing, I wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving!  May you all eat too much and spend it in wonderful company!





RocketHub Launches my Project

14 11 2012

Black abalone on San Nicolas Island (B. Blaud)

I have definitely over-used this word lately, but in my overwhelming job to be a part of such a fun way to raise money, I can’t think of any more appropriate vocabulary, so I will keep using the word.  I am EXCITED!!!  SciFund has helped me become organized in the crowfunding world, and through RocketHub, I have launched a fundraising campaign, the Black Abalone Dating Service.  My goal is to raise $2500, and to help people understand what I’m trying to accomplish and what the money will be used for, I put together a short description and video.

 

Black Abalone Dating Service

Are you a lonely black abalone, seeking a nearby abalone of the opposite sex to spawn near and reproduce with?  If that’s the case, you’re not alone!

There were once so many black abalones in California that this intertidal sea snail was stacked 6-deep in the open, so finding a mate wasn’t hard.  After a disease culled them to a fraction of their original numbers, they are now more cryptic and located much further from potential mates.

Black abalones are broadcast spawners, meaning they release their eggs or sperm directly into the water in a Hail Mary attempt to reproduce, hoping they are close enough for their gametes to mix and the eggs to fertilize.  But the question is: how close is close enough?

 Fundraising Target: $2,500

Because black abalones are an endangered species and we have not been able to successfully spawn them in laboratory settings, we use small particles as surrogates for black abalone sperm and eggs in our experiments.  We release these particles in the intertidal and collect water samples to measure the concentration of sperm and eggs over distance and time.  The cost of the particles for each experimental run is approximately $2,500.  We aim to raise enough to fund one run in the hopes of finding out how close two abalones have to be in order to successfully reproduce.   Any money we receive over our fundraising target will go to funding further experimental runs to see how different variables affect the necessary proximity two abalone must be in to successfully reproduce.

 

You can view the video through the SciFund link at: http://www.rockethub.com/projects/11912-black-abalone-dating-service

 

I literally check the website 10 times a day to see if anyone has contributed, and to show that I believe in myself and my project, I was the first to fuel it with a donation.  Any help is appreciated, seriously appreciated.  So go check out the link, and open your wallets!