Friday, 6 September 2013

Azores 2013 Day 2

On day two we visited Furnas, the most volcanically active part of Sao Miguel island, where you can see naturally boiling water bubbling up from the ground.

Thermal vents at Furnas. On Thursday night the staff enjoyed a meal cooked in these vents (a stew pig's ears - suprisingly not chewy after being slow cooked underground all day)   
Students took water samples from a lake and the numerous cold and hot water springs around the town of Furnas. Here we were particularly interested in testing the water quality, and looking at the ecology of the springs, which support a fascinating diversity of cyanobacteria, fungi and invertebrates that have adapted to live in and around these waters. 

The boys put their feet up whilst the girls take water samples

Some of the most impressive bacteria and cyanobacteria thrive in the springs which have temperatures of up to 80°C. Last year a new species of fly was discovered living on these bacteria. Since last year’s field visit, a spider that predates on these flies has also been discovered in this extreme environment, and it is thought this species could be new to science.

In the afternoon the students visited the Terra Nostra botanic gardens at Furnas to learn their endemic plant ID in preparation for tomorrow, when they will be monitoring plots as part of the laurissilva forest restoration programme.

The invasive Pittosporum undulatum was even taking over the endemic plant section of the botanic gardens

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