A public holiday on Wednesday (tip for visiting researchers #1: get a written list of holiday dates so you don’t turn up to an empty office!) meant an engineer couldn’t attend to my instrumental woes until Thursday. Most of Thursday was spent replacing part after more-expensive part of the instrument with no luck. By the end of the day I was torn between glass-half-full (“well, it must just be something quick and cheap and easy that’s failed and we’ve just overlooked it”) and half-empty thoughts (“it’s unfixable and will never work again, what am I going to do…”). Luckily my engineer returned Friday with a quick and easy idea that turned out to solve the problem and by Friday afternoon I was up and running again.
An analytical instrument is no use without samples to run on it so on Saturday I joined a pre-planned department trip to a local beach to collect some samples. The site was close to places I’ve visited before, but this beach was in a whole other league; a beautiful, sandy, tropical beach. I wasted no time getting in the water, and despite the fact I can only name a handful of tropical species (I’m still a new enough biologist that I feel quite smug whenever I can give the Latin name for something!) I went out snorkelling to help get a picture of what species we may find at low tide.
It’s probably not the perfect tropical paradise coral reef system you would imagine, but then this coast of Malaysia is full of industry, shipping lanes and oil extraction and transportation paraphernalia. But when you do get glimpses through the murky water you can still find brightly coloured fish, shimmering corals and, of course, plenty of seaweed.