Halfway there!

The day started out as most days have, with us each waking up at our own pace, making coffee and bagels for breakfast. As we prepared our lunches for the day, we also made our game plan for which reefs to visit. The turtle team decided on going to North Bay, to survey sites 42, 43 and Turtle Town, and the benthic team headed to “the thumb” of the sandbar, the northern fringe reef near Reef 25, and Goby Bay on Coconut Island.

For the turtle team, we started with Reef 42, dividing it in half for the two pairs comprising this group. One pair went clockwise around the reef, while the other went counter-clockwise and the survey ended once we met back up. As we snorkeled around the reef, we recorded each observed turtle along with the corresponding GPS point and noted if the individual was large enough to tell its sex. This same method was used for Reef 43, and this reef ended up being the most exciting as well as turtles galore! The well-known cleaning station on the reef was full of turtles, allowing us to count over 7 turtles within one minute. The final reef for the turtle team was the site known as Turtle Town, for its regular abundance of… you guessed it…. Turtles! However, only a definitive two were counted. This reef is incredibly small, so only one pair of divers surveyed the reef, while the other pair observed from above.

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Meanwhile, the benthic team continued the search for Gracilaria salicornia, the alga known to be heavily consumed by the turtles in the bay. While at the “thumb” of the sandbar, no G. salicornia was found, however, the team had been looking in the wrong place, and plans are in the works to return to the correct place in the coming days. The fringing Reef 25 was quite shallow and the visibility was not the greatest, making this a difficult survey site. The final site of the day, Goby Bay on Coconut Island, was a success. This very shallow bay was surveyed easily by standing, instead of swimming.

As our second week comes to a close, we reflect on the incredible experiences we have had thus far, and look forward to the second half of the course, where we will get to see the results of our hard work.

 

-Tess Chapman OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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2 Responses to “Halfway there!”

  1. CYNTHIA L HUNTER Says:

    What a great photo!

  2. Joshy G Says:

    Beginning of the second paragraph you say that two divers went clockwise while the others went clockwise. Does that mean you were just following each other? Or?

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