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Back to the USA

Sadly my field season is coming to an end, so I packed up all my manatee samples, as well as the plant and other manatee food reference samples to ship back to Florida for analysis. Besides the actual packing I’ve been getting all my permits in order for export and import of samples, which actually takes a mind-boggling amount of time and preparation. Permits can take months even years to get, and separate export and import permits are required for plants and wildlife samples, not to mention the research permits both from the USA and Senegal. This is one of those tedious but necessary parts of fieldwork that they never tell you when you’re in school, but can make your life impossible if you don’t get everything just right. So over the last couple months I’ve worked hard to get all the paperwork in order, and I’m relieved it’s done for now!

Last night I flew back to the USA. Initially I had some trouble at the airport in Dakar because I was also bringing a couple manatee satellite tags back to the USA, and even though I took out the batteries and put a letter in the trunk with them detailing what they are (and even including photos of the tags on manatees), the customs folks were nervous about them (they do look a bit like bombs). I spent about 45 minutes in the basement baggage area trying to convince the officer that the tags are safe, and after he put them through the scanner about 3 times he decided he would allow my baggage on the plane, but told me he wouldn’t allow it next time. So I guess I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get to it…

When I got back to the departure lounge the airline representative told me I had been upgraded to first class, which definitely made my day! So I’m now back in the USA, heading to Florida and getting ready to start a whole lot of sample analysis. I’m looking forward to the results!  

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