This past week was our designated research week where we went out and did research at Mexico Rocks and at the mangroves. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we suited up to do our underwater research on the coral mounds. Before we got in the water, we went over our specific jobs and split up into two teams of three. Two of the team members were tasked with taking pictures of the coral mounds inside a pvc pipe square (quadrat) and taking closer pictures of the soft coral. These images will be used to calculate how much live and dead coral covers the mound. The leftover team member had to take a very slow video going up and over the coral mound and then one going all around the sides, in order to get a complete picture of the mound for later analysis. Over the course of our three dives, I got to help out with both jobs, and such simple tasks become incredibly difficult while scuba diving. Communication is very limited and because most of us were new divers it took us a little bit of time on the first dive to figure out our buoyancy issues because it was such a shallow area. By the end of the research dives we were all pros at taking the data and we saw some incredible marine life as well!
On Tuesday and Thursday we headed up north to take data in the mangroves. We were looking at the mangrove propagules (a small and young mangrove tree) and mapping where they were located, complete with pictures taken above and below the water. To get this data we had to kayak out into the shallow warm waters with our GoPro, iPad, and Bad Elf GPS devices. We were looking at the different organisms living on or around the propagules, such as snails, barnacles, seagrass, sponges, or algae, in order to see their effects on the growth of the mangrove propagules.
To round out our week of data collection and diving, this past saturday was San Pedro’s annual Lobster Fest! The begin of lobster fishing season means a large block party with all the local restaurants serving their best lobster dishes. Every year we also have a booth to promote our camp! This year we did face painting, had coloring pages, and were teaching kids how to fold an origami frog. The night was a success and everyone had a lot of fun!
This week we are busy with our R.E.E.F. Program for students 12 and up, we have a lot of exciting lessons and field trips planned so stayed tuned to read all about it!
-Katherine Akey & Team STARRS