I'd have to say the first day of June was a success. We did a lot of things and saw a few neat sea friends! As usual, the day started with an early morning swim in the boat channel. We swam along the edge of the coral where lots of creatures like to hang out. The water was beautiful and clear this morning! We saw a few massive loggerhead sea turtles, some sea pancakes, a little octopus friend, and a wobbegong shark. Well, I saw its fins. It was hanging out in a cave. There were some huge schools of fish, and I'm proud to say that I could name a lot of the things I saw! Surprisingly, one of my favorites was seeing a massive fish get cleaned by the little cleaner wrasse. Just nature at work.
After we returned, we ate breakfast and immediately went back out again, this time to Shark Bay. Don't worry Mom, it's just a name. I didn't see a singly shark, although it's actually got a surprising amount of sting rays in it. Shark Bay is on the other side of the island, and it's STUNNING. The water is insanely blue, crystal clear and teeming with life and with coral.
We were out there collecting sediment cores for a lab. Sediment cores are basically just tubes that you stick all the way into the sand, then pull out to collect a vertical cylinder of sediment. This turned out to be quite the task for Susie and I. We were working together in about four feet of water, and we could not for they life of us stay under water for more than .2 milliseconds. I like to think that it isn't our fault because we had wet suits and things on, which make you float very easily. There was also a decently strong wind, so every second spent on the surface resulted in about 4 feet of distance between us and our sample site. Anyway, we basically ended up with her holding me underwater while I dug the cores out of the lagoon floor. We definitely whooped and hollered when we finally finished the first sample. It was so much fun!
We took our samples back to the lab where we meticulously picked out every single near-microscopic worm and bug. I'll skip the recap of all the data calculations and just inform you guys that the number of bugs in the sand decreases as you get closer to coral. The more you know.
In the evening we went for a reef walk. The tide was so low that many of the coral patches in the lagoon stuck out of the water. We used big orange tube things with glass bottoms called "seascopes" to look around at all the cool creatures hanging out on the lagoon floor. There were hundreds of sea cucumbers, lots of sea stars, and a couple of epaulette sharks (cute little "walking" sharks). I'll never get tired of watching the sun set over the ocean here.
We had a lecture after dinner on corals, and I learned a lot about them even though I fell asleep just a tiny bit (sorry Trisha). Here are some facts you may not have known:
~Corals are living creatures (maybe you already knew this)
~Coral reefs have existed for millions of years
~Corals are actually made of thousands of tiny little individual creatures called polyps
~Each little coral polyp has an cute little mouth for munching on snacks
~Corals have some chill friends called zooxanthella that feed them and keep them happy
~When corals get stressed out (aka when humans do stupid things to ruin the planet), they let all their zooxanthella friends go and they die. If corals die, scientists predict that we'll lose a significant portion of the human population because of the loss of many fish and other species that depend on coral. Keep corals in mind when you do things, friends!
Anyway, I'm pretty knackered (that's what they say here), so I think I'm going to hit the hay. Goodnight all!