An Average Morning of Fieldwork Along the Panama Canal

Ever wonder what an average morning of fieldwork along the Panama Canal is like for a PCP PIRE intern? Well, here’s a photo-documented account of just that…

Between 4:30 and 5:00 AM (Wake up, eat breakfast, and get dressed in field clothes)

The early intern gets the fossil...or gets to the field before it gets too hot.

The early intern gets the fossil…or gets to the field before it gets too hot.

Breakfast, the most important meal of the day!

Breakfast, the most important meal of the day!

Field clothes; chosen to minimize exposure to the sun and protect the eyes and hands.

Field clothes; chosen to minimize exposure to the sun and protect the eyes and hands.

5:45 AM (Walk up to STRI-CTPA and load field gear into STRI truck)

6:00 AM (Depart for the Panama Canal in STRI truck)

En route to the Panama Canal, behind an iconic "diablo rojo" bus and taxi on the road.

En route to the Panama Canal, behind an iconic “diablo rojo” bus and taxi on the road.

Centenario Bridge; we have to drive over it and then pass below it in order to reach our fossil localities.

Centenario Bridge; we have to drive over it and then pass below it in order to reach our fossil localities.

6:45(ish) AM (Arrive at first field site along the Panama Canal and start working)

A foggy view of the Panama Canal at sunrise from near our first locality of the day.

A foggy view of the Panama Canal at sunrise from near our first locality of the day.

Intern Evan Whiting (left) and Supervisor Jorge Moreno-Bernal (right) walking to the first locality of the day.

Intern Evan Whiting (left) and Supervisor Jorge Moreno-Bernal (right) walking to the first locality of the day.

A huge ship passes quietly by in the canal as we work at our fossil locality.

A huge ship passes quietly by in the canal as we work at our fossil locality.

10:00(ish) AM (Pack up and head to another locality along the canal)

The wrath of Jorge and Evan: piles of broken sandstone concretions that can contain fossil leaves, seeds, and even vertebrates!

The wrath of Jorge and Evan: piles of broken sandstone concretions that can contain fossil leaves, seeds, and even vertebrates!

A broken, indeterminate bone fragment I found shortly after arriving at our second locality of the day. Glue was applied to prevent it from falling apart, and toilet paper was used to wrap it for safe transport back from the field.

A broken, indeterminate bone fragment I found shortly after arriving at our second locality of the day. Glue was applied to prevent it from falling apart, and toilet paper was used to wrap it for safe transport back from the field.

I label every fossil I collect with a unique field number, and write this on a piece of tape I apply to the toilet paper-wrapped specimen, the collection bag I then place it in, and in my field notebook for future reference.

I label every fossil I collect with a unique field number, and write this on a piece of tape I apply to the toilet paper-wrapped specimen, the collection bag I then place it in, and in my field notebook for future reference.

12:00 PM (Pack up and head home in STRI truck)

The view of the Panama Canal and the Pedro Miguel Locks through the window of our field vehicle driving across Centenario Bridge following our morning of fieldwork along the canal.

The view of the Panama Canal and the Pedro Miguel Locks through the window of our field vehicle driving across Centenario Bridge following our morning of fieldwork along the canal.

12:30(ish) PM (Arrive back at apartment; eat lunch, take a cold shower, and change into clean clothes before heading back up to STRI-CTPA to prepare and catalog fossils, work on research projects, etc. for the rest of the work day)

Lunch! Well-deserved after a long, hot morning of fieldwork along the canal. After lunch, it's back up to work in the lab for the afternoon.

Lunch! Well-deserved after a long, hot morning of fieldwork along the canal. After lunch, it’s back up to work in the lab for the afternoon.

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