How to Catch a Tarantula
After a layover in Broome (due to a flight cancelation), I was able to meet the rest of the team and we all drove to Derby. Early in the morning we left Derby and headed down the Gibb River Road towards Charnley River Station. We arrived early afternoon, after getting settled in my tent we had a range of safety briefings. Due to the remote location a number of checks need to be put in place to ensure teams are safe in the field. This includes the use of a satellite phone and a Garmin, which tracks location, sends messages and can SOS emergency services. I was VERY excited by the helicopter briefing that taught me all about how to enter, exit and strap in (it was much more complicated than I thought!).
I then joined two scientists who are experts in burrowing spiders. They were digging a tarantula out of its burrow. This was a long and careful process that involved a balancing act between digging out the spider but also ensuring the burrow did not collapse or the digging tools injure the specimen. This is done through creating a trench next to the burrow and digging downwards the approximate depth of the spider. You then widen the trench towards the burrow to create a hole. After you find the spider (at the bottom of the burrow), it is a matter of getting them out and then into the jar before they run away!