Ashley N. begins the snorkeling trip to the front (ocean) side of the reef at Discovery Bay. Everyone was able to sneak over the reef top despite there only being about 18" of water depth.
Today was an awesome as usual day down here. We all had to get our research project proposals done by lunchtime, so Rachel, Elyssa and I (my two partners in crime for this project) went out after lunch to see what we could see regarding the various coral diseases out in Discovery Bay.
We want to do a project about the abundance of the various diseases, looking at the percentage of healthy corals versus sick corals and the correlation between the species of coral versus the type of disease. On a tip from one of the Canadians, we snorkeled all the way out towards the weather buoy by the reef crest and saw more than enough diseased corals to make our project viable. The plan is to mark off 10m by 10m plots and run transects through them as a way to systematically count the amount of diseased corals in each area. I’m pretty excited to start the project tomorrow, as is everyone else I am sure.
After lunch, Brad and Joe took a bunch of us on a snorkel out and over the reef crest. Although it was a little tough getting over the crest with the waves and shallow conditions (and abundant long-spined urchins), the reefs on the other side were really cool and very different from the back reef.
This was my first time seeing sea fans and bigger corals, and although the usual fishy suspects were there too (like doctorfish and french grunts) there were definitely lots of new fish for me, like a black triggerfish, bright blue chromis and these beautiful blue-spotted damselfish. The most exciting part of the snorkel, however, happened literally 5 minutes before we got back into shore: Rachel found an octopus! I heard her scream (with excitement of course) and turned around to see her staring down a rather sizable octopus. It kept slinking into crevices, but every once in awhile it would just come out and stare back at us, like it was sizing us up or something, it was so cool. We followed him through the crevices for a while and once it figured this out, it moved out into the open, changed colors and tried to pretend to be a rock. Once it figured out that we knew it was still there, it darted into the nearest crevice for good and we gave up the chase. Its pretty ironic that we found this guy out in the open in the daytime when a couple of us had spent an entire night-snorkeling trip looking for octopi the other night. Rachel and I were all excited as we swam back in to tell everyone of our cephalopod friend and were both surprised to then see a little barracuda hanging out in the grass, another species we both had yet to see until today. All in all it was an awesome trip, followed by a bit of napping in the sun and another great dinner here.
Hope its not too cold back in New York!