We've been collecting more data through marine surveying techniques as we head into the last week. We'll present our findings from our data at a poster session on Saturday. Because marine surveys are a way to evaluate the health of coral reefs and to compare how the marine protected area (MPA) is helping preserve fish, the data we collect is very important. Basically, the process of taking marine surveys goes like this:
1) 3 or more people help lay out a measuring tape of 30 m along the coral reef path.
2) 2 people swim over the top of the tape, marking out what types of fish they see along the way
3) 1 person swims and dives around the coral reef, checking in crevices to find sea urchins.
4) 2 people lay down a giant 1 m x 1 m square crossed with nylon ropes to make 100 small squares, and then one person estimates what percentage of the square is rubble, soft coral, hard coral, rock, etc. The other person writes down what type of corals are in the square. As you can imagine, this part takes forever.
I'm a fish person for the moment, but we're supposed to do all the jobs at some point, so I imagine we'll rotate through. This morning we saw some neat stuff on our survey, but we didn't have a whole lot of time to look around. Here's some pictures from our recent free snorkels:
The Nassau grouper. Formerly a main staple of the fishing industry in the Caribbean, it was so overfished that it qualified as an endangered species back in the '90s. Its population is slowly growing due to increased protection.
Some sweet brain coral with two blue-headed wrasse juveniles.
And one wicked looking sponge. That's all folks, till next time.