I had a meeting with Sam on the Friday before labor day to talk about the Nyota review I'll begin working on with him (not to be confused with the review about critters that I agonized over all summer). The review with Sam is a long-term project that will be supplemented by data I collect next summer and in later field seasons. It's what I call crumb picking. I'll be tediously combing literature for explicit citations of observations about Nyota's flora and fauna.
I haven't had a meeting with Sam since shortly after I returned from Ukenzagapia. I brought up my concern about accessing the critters and asked if he thinks I should learn to scuba dive **. I explained why I thought I needed to dive, and he immediately told me I was completely forgetting a method that he told me about months ago. For some reason, I associated that method in my head with a different type of project aimed at answering a different set of questions. But of course! I could use the same method to lure the critters where I want them with ways of quantifying their abundance. Clearly I wasn't thinking creatively enough.
He also told me a story about some BigNameInstitution scientists who spent days getting to a remote site lugging expensive scuba equipment, only to find that the local people were amazing divers who could get what they needed for a fraction of the cost. The moral of the story is that I can get Ukenzagapians to help me as long as I'm on good terms with the community, and they're probably way better at it than I could ever be.
Finally, he suggested that I get some scuba equipment and find someone around here to teach me the basics, which I could then teach to someone in Ukenzagapia if necessary.
I'm going to rewrite my whole protocol around the method Sam reminded me of. I can't imagine how I could possibly do this project in a timely manner without his insights and advice.
**Note: In case you missed the first post, scuba diving is an analogy for what I would actually be doing.