I can hardly believe the time has nearly come to say goodbye to this beautiful island... tomorrow morning we pack everything up and start the 2hr trip back to the mainland again. But for now we celebrate!
We all presented our final projects(: I think Bean and I did pretty well.. It was pretty fun to see everyone's different projects and questions. After all the projects we had our rubbish competition!! All of us had been collecting rubbish off the island all week and we had this ongoing competition of who would gather the most(: I did not win unfortunately.. but all together we gathered nearly 7 lbs of rubbish off the island! Yay for reef preservation!! <3
We also had a little award ceremony for the week and I am incredibly proud to say that I won the "Rocky Balboa Award for Taking it like a Champ!" in honor of not giving up after taking on the "worst/best injury of the week"! Not that that was a competition or anything... ;) If any of you were wondering, it has healed up quite nicely and I may even get a sick scar from my near death experience on the coral reef.. ;) haha
THE OUTER REEF TRIP WAS AMAZEBALLS!!!!!!! Wow seriously some of the best coral diversity we've seen yet! SO colorful and beautiful! <3 I never want to leave!!!!D': Even the boat ride out there was awesome! I didn't know this island had a roller coaster?!?! Haha it was super choppy cuz of the wind and since we were going against the current and were in an inflatable boat we caught some serious air!! It was so much fun! Here are some of the pics from the day:
Well, our project is anyways lol... Bean and I finished our final project today and that is pretty much all there is to note about today haha we got up, ate breakfast and then spent the rest of the day working on our project and adding final touches. But of course we took a few breaks haha! We broke out our hammocks again in honor of the nice weather(: The first 3 photos were taken from my hammock.. I'm living a good life here folks ;) haha it's hard to believe this is almost over.. day after tomorrow we'll be on the ferry headed back to Gladstone!! Most of my classmates will head home directly after this but a few of us still have some traveling to do lol.. I gotta say this whole trip has been worth every penny and every effort to be here! But I think a small part of me is really looking forward to my own bed haha x)
If you didn't sing this blog title in the voice of Sarah MacLachlan, go back and try again.. Lol it's part of the beta form of my final video project.. stay tuned for progress :P
Today was a pretty slow day.. Bean and I gathered the rest of our data and started preparing our project presentation. It has to be 12 minutes long! lol good thing I talk a lot ;D Also, in other news, I got my first blister of the trip today. I've been wearing these 2mm neoprene socks I bought, to combat flipper friction, but today some sand got caught inside and I actually got a blister. Damn parrot fish poop! (yes, that is pretty much what any white sand beach is made of.. that and sea cucumber poop lol)
It rained a ton today too(: So other than finishing up our data collection (score is now.. Ocean: 3 Us: 0) I finished my book I've been reading ('The Other Boleyn Girl'... I highly recommend!) and had time to start my video project! So it's been a slow BUT productive day! I got some nice pics today too(: enjoy!
Shark/Turtle photo creds: Edd
Laughing along to the beach!
I found a cute little pipefish! They are related to seahorses and just kind of hang out on the corals haha He's in the bottom mid-left of this pic^^
Collecting data via quadrat and assessing coral health!
We saw some guys out on the water wind surfing! (or something of the such.. looked like someone on a wake board being pulled by a giant kite lol) it looked so fun! But also potentially horribly dangerous because there is SOOOO much coral right under him.. one bad fall could do some serious damage.. to him too! ;)
We had SUCH a gorgeous sunset because of all the storms.. it was stunning! But man we almost got blown off the jetty! It was beyond windy lol we could see TONS of sea turtles nestling close to the beach to escape the wind.. poor things, it was neat to see so many at once though!
So my computer decided to disconnect from the wifi randomly as I was typing this and I lost all that I wrote :/ which was pretty much the whole thing... ugh.. sorry if this seems rushed now haha it's late x)
It decided to rain on us all night last night and pretty much all day today.. the wind was ridiculous again too. But that didn't stop Bean and I from going out in the lagoon and collecting more data for our project! x) It was super hard to work out there this time.. we had to constantly swim against the (strong) current if we even wanted to stay in place let alone not get swept out to the middle of the pacific ocean lol it was definitely a work out. But we got it done! ... well sort of.. when we got back to shore and started compiling our data, our professor pointed out that we had missed a pretty crucial part of the data collection process. Which means our now two days of work is but for naught and we must start again tomorrow.. but c'est la vie avec science right?? wish us luck lol
And because of the rain today I didn't take any pictures... But I realized that I didn't post any of the pics from off my phone yesterday! So you get to enjoy those today haha(:
We decided to go hammocking yesterday on the beach and it was HEAVEN!! I am officially obsessed.. haha the sunset was gorgeous last night over the water. We all sat out on the jetty to watch it and we saw a shark below us in the water(: he was only about 5 or 6 feet roundabouts.. but that's what that black smudge is in the last photo lol
Good times are happening here on Heron Island always! I'm so grateful for this experience even if it's included wet weather and long research processes lol overall it's a win for sure!
Has it really been a whole week already?? I feel like we just stepped off the boat yesterday.. yet at the same time I feel like we've been here for a year already. x) it's been such an awesome experience though! I just love the feeling of swimming out on a coral reef and actually knowing what I see there! It's amazing! I've learned so much here about fish, corals, invertebrates, mega-fauna etc. And when I go out on the reef, it's such a cool feeling to say "holy crap, that's a huge Naso Annulatus, aka the White Margin Unicorn fish!!" or "wow.. there's so much Acropora Cervicornis or Staghorn Coral all over the reef!!" It's the best, and it literally makes me never want to leave the sea..
Today we gathered information for our personal project that Bean and I have teamed up to complete. We had to come up with our own idea, and have decided to study the effect of coral health on the fish population! So today we donned our trusty wetsuits and grabbed some study tools and headed out to the reef. We found individual patch reefs and counted the number of fish present on the reef. Then we laid a quadrant down and identified the percentage of healthy coral versus unhealthy coral to get an understanding of the patch reef's overall health. Later we will compare this data and see if there is a correlation between coral health and fish abundance! Wish us luck! lol x)
Today while we were gathering data, the wind was RIDICULOUS!! Soooooo gusty!! It made what should have been a 15 min job take us at least an hour lol it's kinda hard to stay in one place when you literally have the ocean and the wind teaming up to push you in opposite directions. So we got some pretty rad blooper pics haha enjoy..
So if any of you were wondering what scientists do out on a remote Island in the tropics... you now know ;) also please enjoy this beautiful and graceful photo montage of me trying and failing to get my fins on before entering the water. lol classic Susan.. x)
Welp.. I think this is the 3rd day in a row that I type up my blog and then I bloody fall asleep face first on my laptop before posting it... *insert eye-roll emoji* lol so forgive me for my tardiness.. nothing new lol
So today we had a more relaxed day(: we did our fish lab! Which meant that we went out at low tide and high tide and videoed how many fish we saw along a transect line. It was so fun! We were really close to the ground in the shallow water so it was fun to be up close and personal with the corals and the fish. Made for some great pics! A bit later we went out on an evening snorkel and I saw the CUTEST little anemone fish (clownfish) in his bubble anemone.. unfortunately I didn't have my camera on me though :/ next time..
Bean got a pretty good shot of me while we were snorkeling haha so that's fun(; We picked our groups for our "end of the term" project and Bean and I picked the name "Beach, please..." ;) now go back and read it the way it's supposed to be read.. lol and the lot of us had a good time coming up with more ocean puns for our group names, hence my blog title lol a couple other good ones were "Shark Bae" and "Pain in the Wrasse".. super funny lol
Anyways, I think that should do it today(: Tomorrow a few of our classmates will be going scuba diving with our professors, so we'll pretty much have a free day to do whatever we want on the island! Woohoo! :) get excited haha
Well as the title would imply, I literally spent all day chilling in my birthday suit. Cuz we were swimming all day anddddd.... IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!! Ha ha get it? get it? (joke creds: Holly) Yep folks, that's right. I got to spend my __ birthday snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. NBD.. you can be jealous later after you look at these mean as pics from today!! We went out to the outer reef again at a different spot a bit closer to the harbour. SOOOO cool! Man I could've spent HOURS down there.. one day I will find some gillyweed and truly become one with the sea. Just wait, it'll happen.
So this morning we had a test on marine species identification! It was so fun memorizing and learning all the corals, fish and other species that live here on the reef around Heron Island. And your girl ACED it! Great birthday gift I must say.. It was even better when we went out on the "celebratory" snorkel trip and I could name not only the common names, but also the scientific names of the fish we saw! It made the experience just that much cooler.
After the test and snorkel we had a lecture on more fish! Super fascinating, did you know that some of our modern fish that live on reefs have been around for 65-66 million years ago!?! I thought that was so cool(: We learned other neat facts like how the population of herbivores and carnivores is often correlated with the amount of algae present on the reef.. when there's no algae, often it means that there aren't many predators picking off the herbivores who eat the algae. And when there is an extreme abundance of algae, it usually means there are more predators around eating all the herbivores. Really neat stuff we're learning haha
Please enjoy the myriad of photos below from our snorkel trip today(:
After all the excitement of the day, the gang surprised me with a small party and a MARVELOUS cake made by the super talented Pat! (that's him on the far left!) It was so sweet of everyone! My partner in crime, Bean, helped to organize it all and took upon herself to corral me in the room while all the others prepared the dining area haha! Luckily I was exhausted from the reef trip and just wanted to snuggle up in bed with a good book.. so she didn't have to worry about me straying too far and seeing things I shouldn't hahaha I'm usually not one to get surprised ever.. so I have to hand it to them all, they made today absolutely wonderful!! Thanks everyone! <3
Also I realized I never posted the answers to the previous quiz! Here they are:
3. All of the above
4. Marsupials: in fact, no mammals at all are found on Heron Island
Please enjoy today's quiz and leave your name in the comments if you got all the answers right last time! :)
Today we visited the outer reef!! It was amazing!! Our guide Isaac took us out on a boat and dropped us in an area known as the Blue Pools. Wow it was gorgeous.. Words cannot describe how incredible it was to suddenly be in what felt like a whole other planet. I felt like I was in a giant version of one of my dad's fish tanks! So many beautiful fish and corals, we even saw a shark! A black tip reef shark(: they're pretty harmless lol the only time I actually got startled a bit was when I looked down and saw a GIANT stingray swimming directly beneath me! Easily twice my wingspan.. So cool. The map below shows where we went for the snorkel trip and the dark spot on the left is the island. All the light blue surrounding it is the reef and lagoon. Insane right?
We also went on a night swim as well and I even stayed in the water as the sun went down!! AND I swam under the jetty in nearly dark water.. Huge step for me as even a year ago I would have been petrified lol. Miracles still happen y'all ;) So rather than doing a hard project and lab report today, we played on the reef and then did a Coral Watch data collection. Where we go out to random coral patcheries and record the different shades of color found on them. It was pretty neat. We also uploaded all our data on the official Coral Watch website which tracks coral health all over the world! How cool is that?
Well I have to study for our species ID test now and am already falling asleep lol I feel like I'm on the mission again, we're working so hard that we crash the minute we finish for the day haha It's great! I'm loving it(: Tomorrow after our test we're going out to the reef again! Hopefully I'll get some better photos.. but these ones below will have to do(;
Welcome to Day 3 of my blog! I appreciate all the comments and feedback I'm getting(: keep 'em coming! <3
Today was quite the adventure! We had to go out to this GORGEOUS lagoon called Shark Bay (don't worry, there were more stingrays than sharks lol), and we were to collect sediment samples along another transect line. This time we placed the line going away from a large coral patch and we measured out 20 meters. We then took core samples at 0 meters, 5 meters, and 10 meters. We then took this back to the lab and identified invertebrates and other tiny beasties that live in the sand. We analyzed the difference in regards to distance from the coral patch. It was super fascinating! But what they didn't tell us was just how difficult it would be to collect the bloody samples!! Hence the title of today's blog.. the area we chose to sample was about shoulder's deep. Which we thought would make it easier to sample seeing as it was shallower.. PSYCH because it was at that perfect depth, we couldn't simply reach the bottom, but we also couldn't kick to stay down. Our fins were high in the air as we tried to make our way down to the sea floor to collect our core sample.
It took us FOREVER just to get the first one! A. because the sand is WAY harder to penetrate than it looks B. because its bloody hard to stay under the water when you're wearing a buoyant wet suit and C. the current made it impossible to stay in one spot for long lol. After struggling for what felt like hours, we finally figured out a system. We would take the back out of the syringe we were using to collect the sample and then stomp it into the ground. Then one of us would dive down to collect the sand, then the other would literally get on top of her back and hold her down long enough to successfully collect the sample... haha it literally looked like I was trying to drown my partner! It was hilarious, and don't worry, we had a safe word(;
Other than that adventure, the rest of the day was pretty relaxed. We spent a bit of time writing up our lab report and then we went on a reef walk instead of an evening snorkel! It was so fun! We saw several kinds of corals and HEAPS of sea cucumbers.. we definitely had to watch where we were stepping lol.. We had these cool glass bottomed scopey things that let us see into the water, super neat. I had to get out of the water a bit early cuz my battle wound was singing the song of it's people every time the salt water splashed on it lol (it's actually a lot better than we thought it'd be though. It's healing quite nicely!) So as I was walking back to the shore, I spotted this really brightly marked shell. I bent over to take a picture of it before I realized what it could be.. a cone shell snail!! No big deal, except its the 2nd deadliest thing on the island next to the blue ringed octopus... there is no anti-venom for it and so you literally just have to let the venom take it's course on your body... and my idiot self hovered my hand mere inches above it to take a picture.. classic rookie mistake lol But have no fear, I am alive and well and I got a great pic *insert rolling eyes emoji* lol
After our reef walk we had dinner! Mate, let me tell you... our chef Pat is a MIRACLE WORKER in the kitchen! I have never ate such healthy and delicious food in succession as I have here. It's awesome! After dinner, we had a lecture on corals! I have taken the liberty to create a quiz for you to show a bit of what we learned(: NO GOOGLING! I'm looking at you Xander... lol(; and Dad, I fully expect you to get everything right.. no pressure(; haha I'll post the answers tomorrow.
Here are some more pictures from the day! Including an amazing one of a green sea turtle taken by my professor Edd. Lol his picture quality is a tad bit better than mine ;) the one of the shark tail was mine though haha he just moved a bit too quickly for me lol
Well folks, today we had our first real taste of the sea! Literally... and for those who are wondering, yes, salt water still tastes terrible.. :P Lol anywho, we went out on an early morning snorkel trip around 6:30 and saw some incredible things!! We saw schools of colorful fish, green sea-turtles, HEAPS of moon jellyfish (don't worry, they don't sting(; lol I poked one on the top and it was bouncy just like in Finding Nemo!!)... This was my very first time snorkeling in the ocean, and let me tell you.. those waves are no joke! It was pretty windy this morning so that made things a bit harder out on the water, but we powered through and had a great first swim!
Heron Island has a man made reef just off the shore where they sank an old boat years ago! It was pretty neat to see all the different kinds of sea life in and around it(: You can see it below in the background.
We went for a total of 3 snorkel outings today! After the morning one, we had brekky (breakfast for you yanks) and then went out to measure the benthic coverage on the reef near the lagoon. We wanted to analyze the percentages of the amount of coral, bare sand, bare rock, crustose coralline algae, and macro algae in a certain 15meter transect line. It was super fascinating and also pretty dang hard to stay in one place with the current lol.. x) At one point a current hit me and I was suddenly thrust into the teeth of a vicious colony of staghorn coral.. battle wounds are below. ;) it was good fun though!
We also went on an evening snorkel and was able to watch the sun set from the water! It was amazing! :) We also ran into a HUGE AS Loggerhead turtle! I literally came face to face with this beastie.. the current was pushing me towards him and he was swimming towards me lol it was pretty scary for a minute cuz this thing was GINORMOUS! His head was easily the size of a bowling ball and the fish on his back, to give you a reference was like the size of my whole arm.. But I quickly got out of his way and snapped a couple pics(: I wish my pictures did the reef justice.. it really is so stunning under the water.. I'm so grateful to be here and experiencing this adventure!
Also, for those of you who were wondering where Heron Island is here is a map! :) I think you can scroll out and stuff.. haha