I’ve been lucky enough to assist Archeologist and PhD candidate Kendal Jackson (who is also my husband) with some of his fieldwork at one of his project sites — a remote, currently uninhabited (by humans) island. I was able to assist him with actual shovel tests (digs) and document his work through photos.
We started our mornings out by picking up and prepping the Jon boat we used and launching it at a small, nearby boat ramp. From there, we traveled about 30 minutes by boat to the island. During our time on the water, we would see all kinds of wildlife, including dolphins, rays, mullet, pelicans, cormorants, ospreys, herons, gulls, and more.
Once we got on land, we collected our gear and hiked to wherever we were digging that day. We completed shovel tests at different places each time, so we always hiked to somewhere new-ish.
On the island, we encountered lizards, a Red-bellied woodpecker, a Pileated woodpecker, and a Southern black racer that was on the beach, next to the mangroves. We also had the pleasure of hearing countless well-hidden birds chirp and sing. Oh, and we also encountered an obscene amount of biting bugs.
I don’t know what the deal is with the mosquitos on this island. It always took them a solid 15-20 minutes to decide they cared about the fact we had essentially bathed ourselves in DEET. I experimented with when I sprayed myself to see if I was spraying too early or too late, but no matter what, the result was always the same. I was going to be annihilated by a torturous amount of skeeters the first 15-20 minutes when under the tree canopy on this island. Only one, windy day did the mosquitos not attack me much at all. That day, the no-see-ums had traded watch and enjoyed my forearms and neck for a couple of hours. I basically surrendered to the fact that, almost every single day spent on the island, would include a 15-20 minute welcome buffet from the mosquitos, where I was the star of the menu. Kendal, for whatever reason, is mostly spared by biting insects.
Kendal and I are both born- and raised-Floridians, so we aren’t strangers to biting insects. It’s hardly a big deal that the mosquitos and no-see-ums of the island wreak havoc upon visiting humans. However, it would be disingenuous of me to omit the fact that the biting bugs are indeed bothersome in what otherwise would be a coastal paradise. The island is almost perfect. ALMOST.
Each shovel test (dig) included Kendal digging to certain depths and me using a super-fine sifter to sift out all of the shells, pottery, flakes of stone tools, fish bones, etc. After each “layer” we would bag what we found, and Kendal would take notes in a journal. We would then continue with the process until we reached 1.2 meters deep. At that point, we’d take measurements and photos, and Kendal would continue to document information in a journal. Then, Kendal would re-fill the hole and ensure the area is marked so that we know that was a shovel test site. After the fieldwork, Kendal sorts the findings and sends some to be carbon dated. The information collected from the shovel tests will help Kendal with his dissertation. Pretty cool, right?
Please note that Kendal has all permits and permissions needed to conduct this research on this island.
It’s been a great experience documenting Kendal’s fieldwork through photos. If you are a researcher of any kind and are interested in hiring me to assist you and document your research by taking photos for you, let’s chat!
After all, documenting research fieldwork is a great idea, as professional photos can potentially:
+ Help paint a full picture of your fieldwork and research activities
+ Help market your research
+ Help get you published
+ Increase your chances of getting grants
+ Enhance your portfolio
+ Help others, including friends and family, understand what you do (haha)
And, of course, the professional photos are great to have simply for documentary purposes.