May 26, 2005
again from Gray’s Reef
today was an action packed one! To start off the day we
had perfect weather. The seas are less than one foot,
the ocean currents are not as strong as previous days,
the air temperature is fantastic, and everyone slept
well. Since we had such good weather the dive teams started
out early at about 8:00. These dives focused on collecting
corals that could be transplanted to J-Reef later in the
day for Lauren’s research. Her work uses genetic
assays, histocompatibility assays (i.e., whether the same
species of coral are compatible with each other), and
transects of established adult distribution data to determine
if Oculina arbuscula disperses locally (within reefs)
or long distances (between reefs). One of the great things
about this first set of dives was that the visibility
was much better than it had been, making collections easier.
Also, there were many new “little friends”
found, adding to the shipboard collection from previous
dives. Divers from the first team collected many species
of brittle stars, crabs, tunicates, sponges, sea stars,
crinoids (picture to right),
and even one snapping shrimp.
During the second half of the day we had a visit from
the local media; who were shuttled to the FOSTER by the
Ferguson (picture below).
They interviewed the scientists and learned about the
research that is going on during Leg III. The reporters
were also given a tour of the ship conducted by Ensign
Tracy Hamburger. While everyone was occupied with eating
lunch and talking to reporters we steamed back to J-Reef.
At J-Reef Lauren transplanted her corals from Gray’s
Reef to a new location in J-Reef to see how well they
do there. Rob and Leslie put down some rebar in order
to anchor the exclusion cages (keep the sponge predators
out) for Rob’s research. Chris and Patrick did a
transect of J-Reef which involves swimming a specified
distance and identifying all of the sponges that could
be seen in order to determine the abundance of the sponge
species located at this site.
Well that is all for now.