Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Turtle Tuesday #9

There hasn't been much going on lately in the turtle part of my job since my last Turtle Tuesday post. I went out last week with a visiting school group and we caught one turtle, but that was it! Most of my work has been office work, wrapping up the end of the year and doing lots of data analysis.

Because we were killing it

However, last week, I had the chance to go out with the sustainable fisheries team and do lionfish and rugosity (height/amplitude) surveys of the patch reefs off our campus. Lionfish are an invasive species; they are native to the Indo-Pacific and have no natural predators. Because they have no natural predators, they reproduce very quickly, out compete other reef species for food, and eat lots of tiny reef fish, upsetting the health and balance of the reef ecosystems. You can find more information about our sustainable fisheries program here.

It had been a few years since I had been diving, but we did 5 dives on Monday and 2 dives on Thursday (the team did 16 dives total over 4 days, but I only went out two days). I cut my hand on a coral during our first dive, and I was a bit nervous I would attract some sharks (I didn't, just some angry stingrays!) It was cold by Bahamian standards (24C/75F), with a water temperature of 21C/70F, but I was really glad for the opportunity.

I lost two hair ties during Monday's dives, so I essentially looked like a sea monster/mermaid. My hair was basically dreaded when I got out of the water and I had to brush it in the shower in order to get some of the knots out! I couldn't even get the salt out of it until Thursday.

I saw some really cool things - loads of lionfish, small reef fish, a barracuda, a couple yellow stingrays - and I got to be a mermaid again. It was lovely! The lionfish surveys were conducted on both removal (all lionfish are speared or removed from the reef) or non-removal sites (lionfish are only counted). These sites are visted quarterly and the data collected is used to see how quickly lionfish numbers increase on removal vs. non-removal sites. Pretty interesting!!

A baby yellow ray (not in the wild, born in our lab!)

Today, I'm probably going diving one last time before I head back to the states for the holidays, this time at our coral nursery! Wish me luck :D

Share some fun facts with me - about anything!