Day 4: Making Discoveries

Dear readers,

During the past two days, we’ve all gotten an up-close and personal look at the species of concern we’ll be studying (Montipora dilatata and Lingula reevii) during our stay here on Moku O Loe, also known as Coconut Island. The class has been split into four groups, with two groups totaling seven people assigned to work with each species. Yesterday, our group went out to Fringing Reef A, more colloquially referred to as Pyramid Reef, to get our first look at L. reevii. Once we’d each gotten a chance to learn to identify them, we loaded back into the boat and headed over to Sandbar 1. There, we found “choke Lingula”, as Nikki (our fellow group member) refers to it. There were L. reevii all over the place, and we were each able to spot them on our own before we left.

Impressive picture of Lingula reevii - Photo credit: Kate

Impressive picture of Lingula reevii – Photo credit: Kate

Lingula out of the sand and under observation

Lingula out of the sand and under observation

Today our group finally got a chance to see our focal species, M. dilatata at Reef 44. We had a slight moment of panic, fearing sharks that could be in the area and swam like crazy for the safety of the reef. Once there, we spread out to search for the “poster colony”, the ideal appearance of M. dilatata, and the one colony that has been confirmed as that species. Troy found it first and waved us over. The colony stood out like a purple neon sign amongst the more muted earthy tones of the surrounding reef. We all agreed that the sight was truly captivating, a beauty to withhold. None of us wanted to take our eyes off of it. But, we had to search for the other two possible colonies known to exist on Reef 44. After much searching by all involved, we finally sought the guidance of our trusty GPS. The given coordinates led us straight to a second colony, this time slightly smaller and possibly a bit less fluorescent, but still beautiful. We left, satisfied that we’d seen the object of our studies for the next three weeks. Back on shore, we were surprised with an afternoon free to work on our various assignments.

Montipora dilatata

Montipora dilatata

A big event from earlier this week was the coral spawning we were fortunate enough to observe. Researchers from all over the world fight for the opportunity to stay on this island during this time of year, in order to partake in this event that only happens – at most – three days a year. We didn’t know what we were seeing at first, but with some guidance we were able to appreciate the gravity of the event. After a very short amount of time, tiny unidentified creatures swarmed the spawn and began feasting on it. The sheer chaos of the event made the water appear as if it were boiling!

We’re all busily getting ready for our big boating test this Saturday. It’s a written exam with seven chapters of preparing to be done ahead of time. WHEN we pass, we’ll each be presented with a certificate to be boaters in Hawaii. This is a big event for us and we look forward to celebrating our success by going on a sailing cruise in Waikiki after it commences.

Thanks for taking the time to read our thoughts and experiences as we journey through this course, and all of the opportunities it presents. Stay tuned to hear from more of our classmates about the wonderful activities we’ll get to be doing.


Swimmingly yours,

Kaela and Tiara

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This entry was posted on Friday, July 12th, 2013 at 5:04 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.