Thursday, May 26, 2005

Greeting again from Gray’s Reef

Well 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 R/V Joe 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.

Until tomorrow,




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