Tidal Forests of Kenya

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August 2: First day in the field

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Today's blogger: Sandra Kim

The wind began to whisper about 4 am today and was quickly followed by rain.  It was similar to the spring rain in the Southern U.S., rain that only lasts for about 15 minutes but comes down fast. It was very refreshing. After breakfast, the sun began to peek through, just in time for our first day out in the field. What a perfect day to be outdoors. I think after yesterday’s mangrove marathon we were all ready to start  Touring_the_Womens_boardwalk  our hands-on research day. Out in the field we got a quick overview of what we needed to do. Colleen and I got to work with plants, while the others worked with animals. There were plots of mangroves that were evenly spaced out 11x11. Some had only a single species, while others had two or three different ones. We measured the height and diameter of trees in the different plots and recorded them. We began to notice that the plots that had two different species; one had eventually dominated the other. We found it interesting that the plot with three different species did much better than the ones with only two. In the afternoon we took a break and sat under a tree and drank fresh coconut juice. To take a moment to realize what we are doing here brings a nostalgic feeling over us.  Of course it’s fun to be in a new place, but the more rewarding feeling I think we all get is the fact that we are all here to learn something that we can take back home with us. We want to learn to how we can make changes to help protect our environment, nature and ultimately the world we keep harming. In the evening we had two speakers, Lang’at and  Arthur. The first topic was regarding climate change and correlation with carbon and mangroves. We learned that mangroves have a higher potential than any other type of forest to store carbon in their biomass. Lang’at explained some of the current projects that he and the Gazi team are working on to try to determine what the potential is for the mangrove forests here to store carbon dioxide, a harmful gas that causes global warming and climate change. If they can restore and conserve the local forests, it sounds like they have a big opportunity to help reduce the impacts of climate change. The second topic was on malaria. Malaria symptoms include headache, fever, vomiting, body weakness, joint pain and the lack of appetite. Typhoid also has similar symptoms. Because of this a blood test is needed to make sure it is malaria.  Only female mosquitoes can infect a person but just because one bites you does not mean that you have malaria. It takes 7 days to go through the incubation period through your bloodstream and liver. Malaria attaches to hemoglobin so people with malaria are usually anemic. In one hospital that covers about 131,000 people, about 100 people come in a month with malaria. Of those, about 6 people die, mostly children. There are a couple different treatments depending on how severe the malaria is. We found it interesting that malaria is curable but because of cultural beliefs people don’t go to the hospital until it’s too late. At night we had two people do small presentations. Mike Cribbs, from Howmet Whitehall, spoke of the Whitehall plant, his love for fishing and also the Michigan area that he lives. Lisa Mills, from Anglesea Powerstation in Australia, spoke about her lovely family, her background and also about the work she does in Anglesea. What a great way to end the evening! It was nice to hear them speak about their backgrounds and families, but it was also fascinating to be made aware what everyone does at their Alcoa locations.

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