Morning dive! The visibility is much better but not many things presented themselves to us during the dive, sad. Today was a very busy and tiring day overall. I and Cassie went on a dive at Shark bay for at least 3 hours, for both our research and Colt and Audree project. The wind was strong, the current was even stronger, the rays was everywhere. Diving today was like submarines navigating through depth charges infested water. Cassie went over like 10 rays with their tails pointing without knowing while I was screaming in my mind. The same thing kinda happened but the parties switched sides. I was taking video of the rays while Cassie screaming on the inside. Colt point the Megalochorus, which is a gigantic cone shell. I also got some footage of that while Cassie screaming on the inside too. We just finish analyzing the footage we got from the dive, the rest of them will be done tomorrow.
Morning dive as usual, but because of the weather the visibility was very bad. There was not enough light to really see anything, I was expecting sunlight reflecting off fish. scale I learned my lesson and used my wetsuit this time, that helped with the cold. Despite a bad visibility, we can’t really miss the gigantic loggerhead sea turtle swam right at us, appearing out of the murky water. That was pretty much the highlight of the dive. After that, all student were scattered into group and create a proposal for the final project just like the real scientists do, we also mess around with word no one really use to make the proposal look more science just like the real scientists do. Since the project that me and Cassie are working on has already been discussed with Edd prior to today, the proposal took little time. We went straight into the water to collect data for the project. It was during the low tide, we almost stuck to the bottom many time due to the lowering tide level, and I quote Cassie “It was like navigating a submarine” We got the easiest 25% of data collected from that dive, we will continue tomorrow when the tide is more forgiving. The sun was setting and I went on the evening dive with Edd at the boat channel. The visibility was even worse than in the morning but we dove in anyway. While I was gliding along the channel wall I found a wobbegong shark, aka carpet shark. I didn’t have a camera with me but Edd was ready for it. He said that they are his favorite shark. After that Edd sent Saul to the jetty with a duty to fulfill, spot the black tip reef shark in the bay and point it out to me and Edd in the water. Apparently the water was so cloudy we could see the shark 15 feets away, the picture from Saul show the two of us closing in on the shark but have no visual of it at all. The shark hunt of today was not a successful one but the picture was hilarious.
Morning dive has became a routine for me now. 6:00 in the morning and we are out in the water, today was just me, Bryce, and Edd. We went out a little further this time, almost to the outer reef. The water was as cold as ever but I dove in with my rashguard and swimming pants instead of wetsuit, it was bone chilling cold. We then went to the outer reef today as recommended. At the bay we saw a squid just floating around in the shallow water. It was just taunting us at that point. After a short ride on a boat, the real dive began. Right of the bat we saw 4 sea turtles lazing around at the bottom of the sea, getting clean by the wrasses. They were right in front of us, at arm reach, the only thing prevented me from doing so is the set of 341 regulations mentions on the previous blog. A little bit after that I heard someone yelling above the surface, it was Saul who spotted an octopus hiding on a coral. He alert everyone, being a real homie. After that, I spotted a sea turtle appearing behind Cassie. It was a very close encounter, we took videos of it just before the got swarmed by people. They are also reports of a manta ray spotted during the dive but I missed it. But at the very least I caught something very exciting on the camera. This is the closet I can get without startle him.
This is Eddnadius americanus in his natural habitat. The stripes on the lower body is a clear distinction from the other in the Eddnadius family. The vivid blue fins indicated his excellent health. Only one sighting were reported at Heron island, it was two years ago. We might have caught him during his migration path. Native to the northern hemisphere, he was a long way from home. He was trying to make friend with local wildlife but with no such luck. This sighting alone make the trip worth it.
It was 6 in the morning and we were suited for the morning dive at the bay with Edd and some other students. It was not on the schedule, not mandatory, and with the exam looming on the horizon, many just want to get some sleep before the day actually start. Did I mention something about exhaustion? I might have mention something about exhaustion. We found a lot of interesting things during the dive, like a big school of Jacks, parrot fish, but the turtle we found definitely took the spotlight. It was huge and one of the front flipper was bitten clean off. Edd suspected it to be from shark. The next question that everyone has but no one dare ask is “So where is the shark exactly?” We went out to the outer reef after that. The fish there was so much more abundance than the inner reef. We saw many kind of fish, and some of them, how can they be so blue? We also found a white tip reef shark while diving. It was one of the first shark I have seen that close. I was arguing with Hanna whether it was a white tip or a lemon shark so I show her the footage I got from the dive, she was not happy by the end of that but a win's a win nonetheless. We also have the species ID test today, I aced it. They are also a lot of birds around here on the island. Seeing how many and how often they their head against buildings, one got to wonder how the species manage to persist this long. One stray cat would drive this population to extinction. One of the bird just hit the building as I type this down.
Most of today’s activities involved with CoralWatch team. In the morning we were taught how to use coral health chart and how to collect data. It was fun doing all that but I don’t know if the data collected with this method is valid or not since the one doing the survey have to pick the coral, and human biases can’t be eliminated, some might only go for the good looking one which mean the data would indicate good health when in reality there were also damaged and bleached coral in the area as well. We have to pulled out earlier than the other because I promised to help the my friend research. I never would have thought taking care of floating tubs could be so hard and tiring. We swam at least 5k on the trip, back and forth from the beach to the reefs. I tried to take a video of everything going on there but ended up with 3194 pictures instead. Life suck some time. After that we were taught how to put those data into the database. During the low tide we went out with them again, this time learning about other methods for monitoring coral health, they were more reliable, but at the same time, required trained personnels. We did see some sort of a small coral shark moving around in the low tide. It was so cute I wanted to pick it up, but there was at least 341 regulations tell me I can’t. Then the sun was setting, who would have thought? Anyway, I went on a walk around the island with Cassie. Some one told us that it would take around 45 minutes, we came the a conclusion that either the one setting that record were lying or they were very slow, like real slow. Later we went star gazing and geek out about things. We played some cards later, Hanna was cheating by the way. It was a great day, exhaustment make sleeping easier than ever.
The jet lag has passed! I now can wake up in normal people hour. Our activities today revolved around the abundance of fish during the high tide and low tide. Swimming with the measuring tape is easy. During the first break, Tia join me on a walk along the beach. The view was great, it will be even greater if I figured it out how to do panorama on my phone. We saw a lot of things along the way like chitons, snails, birds, crabs. Tia is terrified of crabs, it is quite amazing how fast can she jump when one came up to her. But what can I say, Sea clams are the bane of my existence. Just before this, we went to listen to the CoralWatch talk about their program. It sound good, but I can’t shake the feeling that these efforts they put in is going to go to waste. The coral reef is not something that can be protect by a hand full of people and not many people would willing to do anything since they would not get direct benefit. I could be too pessimistic, but pessimism is needed to not blind ourselves with false hope.
Started the day a little early than I expected, 4:30 in the morning. I’m blaming jet lag for that one. Thanks for my exceptional planning skill, I got some star wars to watch, in the dark, tried to not wake all my friends up. We went for a drive first thing in the morning near the jetty, It is amazing how close you can swim up to those wildlife and observe them. Tailgating sea turtle is my favorite thing to do so far. There is something to it that I can’t really put my finger on. When the last light dies, we walked out to the beach, planing to go around the island but ended up laying down on the jetty instead. There were so little light pollution that we can see the milky way so clear, the stars, the planets and even a shooting star.