Day 8: We found Gracilaria!

Today we officially started our second week on the island! We’ve been having some troubles recently finding turtles around the bay, but yesterday, on Sunday, six of us saw 10 turtles throughout the evening at Lilipuna pier. So, this morning, three of us took the boat to the pier and looked around in the shallow waters. To our surprise, we actually found Gracilaria salicornia growing on the rocks around the area the turtles were grazing yesterday.

After that fortunate success, we went to 3 other sites in the bay, looking for more Gracilaria. Red Team and Green Team went to the “Thumb” of the Sandbar, while Blue Team went up to “Wrist” of the Marker 12 “Mitten” in North Bay. While Red Team and Green Team were unsuccessful in finding Gracilaria at the Sandbar, Blue Team found plenty near Marker 12. In addition, they picked up half a boat’s worth of marine debris! Great job Blue Team!

Kaneohe Bay

After the teams finished at these two sites, we all met up around Reef 34 for lunch. The food was like every other day, but we had a few surprising “guests”! There were so many turtles peeking out of the water for air. One boat had 29 sightings, although we couldn’t figure out how many individuals there actually were.

After lunch, the teams explored Reef 34 and the fringing reef across the channel. While we were swimming, the Blue Team saw 1 juvenile swimming in the water. Between the 6 members of the Red Team and Green Team, we saw 13 turtles, although multiple people likely counted the same turtle. The water at these sites was so murky, so there might have been more in water that we were unable to see.

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Now, why were there so many turtles on Reef 34? Just like how it was lunch time for us, so was it lunch time for them. For the first time, we saw so much Gracilariaon the coral. This reef reminded us why Gracilaria is an invasive species, as there was so much Gracilaria around that it was overgrowing the coral. At least the turtles had something to munch on!

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We’re all looking forward to tomorrow, now we finally now at least one place the turtles are eating at. We’ll continue exploring other locations in the bay, so hopefully soon we’ll be able to decide what exactly we want to study! Wish us luck!

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