This is the second of two post on my first trip to the US, so if you want the whole story, read about my landfall in San Fransisco first.
David and I arrived in Monterey Bay the evening before the conference. We had to drive from San Fransisco as there is no easy direct public transport there. There is a Greyhound bus route, but apparently it takes 8 hours (it takes 2 hours to drive). Monterey town itself is small but charming. However, you don’t come here for the town, but for the aquarium and the wildlife.
The first day of the conference was the main day for us. It had a whole session on deep-sea omics. The term “Omics” constitutes a type of technique and big data analysis where researchers can examine genes, gene expression patterns and expressed proteins or metabolites to answer their hypothesis. It was a varied session with people working with everything, from microbiomes to nematodes to sponges to shrimp to fish, basically covering most eukaryotic, prokaryotic and archaeal areas of research. We were also reunited with a few of the people we sailed with on the Indian Ocean Expedition that we undertook last year, as well as being introduced to another few people. It is actually quite nice to feel that one is starting to build a network of colleagues around the world.
The second day of the conference was not so relevant for my research, but I sat through some interesting talks in the afternoon and there was also a poster session in the evening where I was one of hundreds who presented. Scientific posters are like a large poster with your science on it. I think it is a horrible way of presenting science. One should make videos or something instead. That way, you can also reach a potential non-scientific audience this way. One of the pros with the poster sessions though is that it creates a platform for chatting with unknown colleagues. It is such a small world though, because the person who was the most interested in my research happened to have his office above the visitor office at the University of Oslo, where I sit frequently when I am in Oslo.
Wednesday had a good morning session and in the afternoon we got a free entrance to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The following day we had a whole day of talks, with a long session about deep-sea technology. Friday was the last day of the conference that ended with a grand banquet at the aquarium. It was really cool to have the aquarium all to oneself, nice dinner and cake, whilst chatting to our expedition colleagues and discuss possible new projects, whilst watching the fish swim by.
Other than the conference, we took several wanders around Cannery Row, which is now a touristy area but used to be the street for the sardine canning factories. There are also masses of aquatic animals and birds to be seen. On the first visit to the beach, I spied a very strange looking seagull, which of course turned out to be a hawk. I was also confused about the long-necked sea gulls which didn’t look like gulls, but were actually Canada geese plus a domesticated white goose having an ocean swim, a little strange when you are used to seeing these birds in fresh, and not salt water (maybe I should have my eyes checked). Other than spotting non-gull birds, we also took a trip out with sea kayaks which was great fun, especially when the harbour seals come to say hello.
We left Monterey to go to San Fransisco airport on the Sunday. Instead, the driver drove us to San José airport and not San Francisco (and we had to spend another 45 minutes in a taxi). That is two out of three cockups related to drivers, and I have a feeling that isn’t uncommon. We did make it to San Fransisco airport in the end and on time, and with plenty of leg space and a GT in one hand and wine in the other we closed in on London in no time.
All in all, I would say that Monterey Bay and Angel Island redeemed California in many ways for me. It is still the wildlife that does it, and next time I think I will stay out of the city and be completely independent of drivers, waiters and hotels.
Thanks for reading!