Make Your Own Field Notebook & First Expedition

The Gong 151

#002 Make Your Own Field Notebook & First Expedition

Are you ready to get out in the field and start meeting species? Simply follow this link and you can download a full 151-entry notebook to keep on your phone, tablet or computer.

Beware, the notebook is by no means finished. There’s much to come, like an area map, a tidal zone reference, and of course the 151 species you and I are going to catch.

Updates to the notebook will be made fairly regularly. Most of these should be in the form of pages that you can copy and paste into your notebook. Of course, if you would like to add new fields to the template (such as food sources for each species) than please go ahead. Make it your own!

Below I’ve included the entry template with one species filled out. There’s also an annotated picture explaining the template in a bit more depth. Your comments and suggestions are very welcome. Also exciting – very exciting – is that one weekend in the very near future, I’ll be taking a group out observing. If the weather is warm enough, this may involve snorkelling at Bellambi Rock pools. Bellambi is brilliant for its variety of intertidal life, from brittle sea stars to elephant snails, colourful blennies, black drummers, octopuses,  crested terns and waratah anemones. A friend and I once even found a magnificent weedy seadragon washed up on the beach.


If you have suggestions for the field guide, or would like to join our weekend expedition, feel free to drop me a line. With your help, we’ll make the best marine field guide there ever was!


Sample Field Notebook Entry: 

# 051

Common name: Little Blue Periwinkle

Scientific name: Austrolittorina unifasciata


         Kingdom       Phylum          Class                 Order                    Family             Genus

Animalia        Mollusca      Gastropoda      Caenogastropoda    Littorinoidea   Austrolittorina


Date observed: 19th March 2017

Time of day observed: 15.29

Size: 10 – 20 mm height; 5 – 15 mm width

Location: Thirroul Beach

Zone: Splash zone to high intertidal

Number encountered: 1000s (common)


Interactions within species: Little blue periwinkles follow each other to form aggregations. The trail leader will stop when “bumped” into by the snail behind. Browse for algae when submerged in pool or by tide. Sometimes cluster on top of each other in towers three or four snails high. Larger animals tend to prefer being higher in the splash zone where they are infrequently submerged.

Interactions with other species: Sometimes aggregate with pyramid periwinkles. This is more common high in the splash zone where desiccation by wind and sun is more likely. Often stepped on by people, though soft feet and flip-flops do not seem to do much damage to shells. Prayed on by crabs and birds.

Notes: Do snails show social preference, i.e. can they recognise and prefer the company of familiar snails?

What is the salt tolerance of these snails? What mechanisms do they use to rid themselves of excess salt?



Annotated Entry:


Remember, always carry a ruler for quick measurements. If you’re counting many small animals, like periwinkles, it can help to mark out an area about 1 metre square and count all of the periwinkles of a species in that square. That will give you a reasonable estimate of the number of animals in the area.

That link again: Downloadable Field Notebook

Good luck and happy exploring!


Author: Anneque Machelle

Anneque Machelle finds the best in indie sci-fi - so you don't have to. Her background in biology, engineering and fiction writing give her a Geiger counter to find the most radioactive underground hits this side of Pripyat.

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