Yesterday (Feb 11th) we did one dive at 8:30 AM, and I was on reef survey duty. My particular job was surveying the algae, and because most of the coral on this dive was dead, there was a ton of algae so I kept myself busy measuring the lengths and recording the species. I also saw tons of really cool nudibranchs on this dive. I love their intricate patterns and how colorful they can get.
After the dive, we headed to land to get new gas and stock up on food. This unfortunately took the whole day, between the boat drive to the harbor and dealing with coastguard. It’s crazy to me how any time you want to take a boat/kayak/vessel in or out, you need to stop by coastguard first. Anyways, it was a pretty chilled day, I napped a bit and finished entering my data on the computer.
The next day we headed to the inshore islands so Aislinn could do her incubation chambers. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any turtle nesting activity so I opted to help out with other people’s research instead. But first, Amr tried teaching me how to use the drone to survey the seagrass meadows. But then I helped Laura collect stylophora corals for her post doc project looking at coral connectivity. I had a lot of fun looking for this species of coral and assisting with her collections and photos. We dove for an hour, and then came back to the boat and processed the samples until lunch time. Because she’s doing DNA work, we had to be really careful to not contaminate the samples, so she uses ethanol and bleach to clean the tools between each sample. In addition to DNA collection, she also wanted to keep a bleached sample of coral to CT scan and measure other parameters, like density and surface area.
After lunch, me Darren and Amr got into the water for a benthic survey, this time I was on photo duty. These surveys consist of three 50 m transects, with Darren in the front counting all the fish. This time it took about 40 minutes. Being so near to shore I expected all the corals to be dead, but we were pleasantly surprised to find so many alive corals!
After this dive, I decided to head over to the nearby island to look for turtle tracks. I got into the small boat with Collin and Ashlie, and we headed over. The first order of business was deploying Ashlie’s BRUV (Baited Remote underwater Video) to try to find sharks or rays. And then we headed to the island. On our way we noticed tons of little rays, which there is an ongoing project to collect their DNA for a population genetics study. We set up the net, table, and sampling tools and got to catching these blue spotted rays. It was so fun to be a part of, and there were so many in this area, it was perfect! We spent a few good hours catching, measuring, and collect fun clips from these rays. In total we got seven, which is a pretty solid sample size. We walked around a bit on the island, unfortunately with no turtle tracks. But I did find a few cool shells to add to my never ending collection.
After sampling, we went back to the boat and I showered, helped Wally with his PAM readings (measuring photosynthesis of corals), and then enjoyed a yummy dinner. I showered and read from my kindle before bed time.