Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Clearing the Lab

"What do people do all day?" asked Richard Scarry in the title of one of his children's picture books, and it's a question that regularly haunts the newly-retired. So I thought I'd give you an idea of what's keeping me busy at the moment.

I used to have a lab, which housed my microscopes and other gear, any current research assistants and, in a side room, my collections. These are mainly made up of freshwater crayfish, upwards of 1200 bottles of them, and since each was hard-earned they represent a considerable financial investment. Think "replacement value". But that's far outweighed by their scientific value, and it's important to get them all to somewhere that will look after them, i.e. a museum.

The old lab
Boxes and boxes and boxes. Dust too.

The crayfish collection
Over 1200 bottles!

Dead souls to haunt me

I've cleared out most of the rest of the lab (and it's a testimony to the School of Zoology's patience that I'm still doing it over 12 months after retiring), but now I must face the crayfish (all those little dead souls). The snag is that the museum wants them all in their own special bottles, but I've got to get the room cleared pronto, so I'll have to pack and ship them and them re-bottle them down at the museum.

All to be packed and catalogued

It's very nostalgic working through the bottles and record books. All the specimens have date, habitat etc recorded with them, but also the names of the collectors, and they bring back happy memories of field trips to the wilder parts of Tasmania.

Every bottle has a label.
A little bit of history.

I'm trying to cram the rest of the stuff into my new office-cum-lab, which is a fraction of the space.

The new office/lab.
A bit squeezy.

So that's what I do; maybe not all day, but it's the main thing at the moment.


  1. Noo something is wrong with my commenting?

  2. Ok, here's the comment I thought I posted hours ago!

    I had no idea you had much an incredible collection or I would have spent weeks in there photographing it.

    I'm glad they are going to a good home, but must be weird to know that no one else will ever understand the collection in quite the same way that you do.