Now we’re experts!

Tirzah+Starfish Moray Eel

Today’s activities were slightly different from the last couple of days here on the island. Today Sascha and Demian took us out to the beach where we had previously been to discuss fishing techniques, but today we conducted some research. We walked further south along the beach with our snorkel gear and the equipment Demian and Sascha had us bring. After splitting into two groups, we all set out to identify organisms; one group followed Demian and one followed Sascha. I went with Demian’s group and learned many benthic organisms including coral and sponges. To point out the organism Demian wanted us to focus on, he used a small weighted bag with an arrow drawn on it. This way there was no confusion about which coral or sponge we were learning about. In addition to the vast array of beautiful and unique corals and sponges, we saw a puffer fish, a gold spotted eel, and many siphonophores. What are siphonophores, you may ask? We didn’t see them as much as we did feel them! Mostly transparent, and much like jelly fish, they flashed fluorescent pink and their sting made up for what they lacked in size. However, they really were harmless and we all laughed at how we could feel them before we could see them. Karen met up with the largest of them, and had a long lasting mark. She applied some vinegar to her arm and is feeling much better now. After identifying organisms, we all split into smaller groups to do transect work. My group consisted of Karen, Nicole and Elizabeth. Different groups used different methods to sample the number of organisms and diversity of organisms, and we chose to use a square made of pvc piping with a string grid across it to sample different areas of the ocean floor. This equipment is called a quadrant. Five different times, we laid the square down on different rocks increasing in depth each time. We then identified and counted the different species of coral and estimated the percentage of the quadrant each species took up. The goal was to come up with conclusions from our data referring to species richness and density and how these relate to different tidal zones. It was a lot of fun to do real work in the field, and to experience Damien and Sascha’s knowledge. Seeing three different eel species today was unbelievable. I was able to dive down and really get up close and personal with some of the most beautiful creatures I’ve ever seen! Plus, I moved a lot better in the water today–I think I really have the whole snorkel thing down!! 🙂


5 Responses

  1. Happy St. Patricks Day !!! It was wonderful Reading Claytons article and yours and the pictures were great.
    Im sure you all wish you could stay there for a month.
    I was wondering what that big pine cone looking thing was that someone was holding in the water ?
    Loved the eel picture too. I also think its great that you are learning about the people there and going to their markets etc. I am really looking forward to reading more about all of your groups experiences. Thanks so much everyone !!!! Mom in Pa.

  2. Hey Sharon!
    The pine cone like thing above, is called a Donkey Dung sea cucumber. It lies on the bottom and filters the sand, and eats the microscopic critters. I think even a month wouldn’t be long enough to see and do everything here. I have never seen such a culturally rich, activity rich, and gorgeous country in all my life.

  3. Hi guys – It’s great to see all of you in the fantastic pictures. Keep those posts coming~! Is anyone surprised that Karen got on the bad side of a jellyfish? Take care of yourselves! 🙂 Becky

  4. Hi Clayton and thanks so much for answering my question about the donkey dung sea cucumber. It certainly is an unattractive critter but very interesting none the less. I sure do wish you could all spend a month there to really see and do so much more.
    I cant tell you how much we enjoy reading all the comments and seeing all the beautiful pictures you are all sending. Thanks so much.
    Tirzah’s Mom, Sharon

  5. Are you trying to make us jealous or what? Pa is so brown and uninteresting this time of year and just to see the green and life makes me want to hop the first plane to your island. Keep up the interesting comments. Marilyn Kern

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