November 2, 2006
Laguna Blanca Refuge, Bolivia
Each experimental station consisted of two clear
plastic squares, about a foot and a half on each side
and open on the top, attached to which was a specially
made piece of plexiglass, suspended horizontally
within the square, about 8 inches off the ground. In
each pair of chambers, one piece of plexiglass let UV
through; the other blocked it.
About half of the dozen or so stations were in good
enough shape to provide useful results. In some, the
plexiglass had been stolen, most likely by local
people who thought they would make good windows. In
others, the plexiglass had collapsed, partially or
fully, perhaps because of being weighed down by snow
during the winter. Some had been completely destroyed
by the fierce winds that blow here every afternoon.
And one was completely underwater.
Later in the expedition, team members will return to
each station, collect samples of the organisms
underneath them where possible, and remove the remains
of the destroyed stations. Some will be rebuilt and
placed back on the lakeshore to be examined next year.
This is the refuge where we are staying. The sun has
just come up; that's why there are no people in the
Matthieu (l), Nathalie, Rob, Edmond and Cristian
examine on of the partially collapsed stations.
Another collapsed station, but it may be possible to
collect some sample from the corner sticking up off
This station was one of the best. The plexiglass had
dropped a bit, but it wasn't touching the water.
This is one of the stations destroyed by wind.
This station, by the shore of Laguna Verde, was in the
best shape of all of them. Although Laguna Verde is
windier than Laguna Blanca, team members last year had
built a wall to protect the experiment from the wind.
This station was underwater. Last winter was brutal
and there was a lot of snow. The level of the lakes
had risen quite a bit.
Those of us willing to get up at 5:30 or 6:00 am
(which is not many) are greeted every morning by a
beautiful sunrise. This is Laguna Verde mountain,
which we see out the windows of the refuge.