I’m off on the adventure of a lifetime, exploring the subtropical forests of Puerto Rico and helping out a team of researchers from UCD with a major project in my spare time!!
I jest! 🙂 I have been given an amazing opportunity to carry out an internship, assisting three researchers from UCD with a project they are working on and this summer they just happen to be doing this in the sub-tropical forests of Puerto Rico! I’m feeling very lucky to be here with them!
Having arrived myself on Monday after a smooth and uneventful 20hours of travelling I was eagerly anticipating meeting the rest of the group on Tuesday and getting to our first destination. I met with Michelle, Wuu-Kuang and Harry at the airport on Tuesday morning and got a much appreciated warm welcome! We loaded into the rental car and finding that our sat-nav wasn’t working we ended up taking a few U-turns, numerous trips through a toll and over a certain bridge before deciding that Starbucks was our best hope to finding our hotel. Yep, coffee and Wi-Fi got us there in the end! We arrived at our accommodation that evening looking forward to the prospects of the following day and exploring our first site which was Cambalache State Forest.
Not having much experience doing fieldwork previously I was a little apprehensive. Worrying about what I knew were trivial things: Did I bring the right gear? Should I have learned off the list of 165 plant species that we were going to study? How will I deal with hiking boots and long pants in 30 degrees of heat? And most importantly, how will I cope with my frizzy hair in the field? All off these questions turned out to be trivial of course except for my hair, it definitely doesn’t love this climate as much as I do!
My first visit to a subtropical forest was, in a word, stunning! I’m not sure what I was expecting but I know this exceeded my expectations without a doubt. It was hot and humid but that fell to the back of my mind for most of the day. None of the numerous photos I have taken do this place justice!
The abundance of unusual species was incredible. We first noticed the amount of epiphytes present on the trees, some extremely big like the one below.
My knowledge of sub-tropical plant species is minimal to say the least but another thing I did notice was the amount of plants that looked very familiar from the houseplant section of the garden centre I work in back home, except all of them ten times bigger. It was fascinating to see them in their natural habitat! Below is a photo of Sansevieria trifasciata or Mother in laws tongue as its more commonly known, a popular house plant back home!
Or another popular one from home, Monstera deliciosa or what is more commonly know as a cheese plant!
Of course one would expect to see some wildlife in a subtropical rainforest, spiders, lizards and the likes and while I thought I might prefer to go home without that experience we have seen some wonderful creatures during our fieldwork so far! Below are photos of one of the many spiders we have come across and also a cute little lizard roaming the picnic area!
Stayed tuned for more on my sub-tropical adventure!