By the end of today, I feel like it has been at least three days of hard work. This morning, I really got to start my URCO project. We will be studying how fish species graze around patch reefs as distance increases. Ed and Trisha have been wonderful at pulling strings to get us time to officially start the project tomorrow. Colt is also enthusiastically helping me with this project. This morning, he, Cassie, Hanna, and I went out to shark beach to find some patch reefs that have at least 30 meters of distance between them. Previously, I had gone on google earth and estimated some suitable locations, but just to be sure, we had to go out and find them. The morning were in the water swimming by 6:30am. The water was rather choppy because of the wind, which made the swim a little bit more difficult. We did find some good areas to set the go pro cameras and the lettuce. The hope is that we will be able to find these locations again tomorrow.
While out there today, I swam by a small jelly fish. I know Cassie swam by a couple as well. I am continually amazed by the unique wonder of reef and all the amazing things to find here. I also got to see a moray eel which investigated my GoPro camera while I was recording it and a snail drilling into the head of a small pregnant crab. That was really sad to see, but it was cool because we had just learned a bit about the anatomy of mollusks in lecture.
For the lab today we examined the abundances of fish in the lagoon at high and low tide. We set out a 30 meter transect line which we swam along and videoed with a GoPro. However, at low tide, we had to walk, which was much more difficult as we had to maneuver around coral while bending over, holding the GoPro in the water and trying to keep it somewhat still so we could actually see fish swimming by.
This day has ended with getting everything ready to set out for tomorrow. This includes the weights and clamps to attach the lettuce, the GoPro cameras, and the buoys. I have really appreciated Ed, Trisha, and Colt’s help to get everything going for this. I am learning a few things about the research life. One – you absolutely, positively cannot do it alone. Two – it will never go exactly the way that you plan. Three – it requires a lot of self-sacrifice. The main thing that I have learned about marine scientists specifically is that they have the most difficult field of any scientists. The most difficult thing is that you don’t have gravity working with you. When you push down, you go up. This makes tasks such as driving a stake into the ground incredibly difficult. I count myself lucky that I have a swimming background.
The people I am around really have made this class enjoyable. If any of my class members or Ed and Trisha read this, just know how grateful I am for you friendship and help today. I feel like I have known all of you for so long even though it has only been a few days. Here is to another good day tomorrow! Wish us luck in setting the cameras and lettuce “sea grass”.