Corals, Past and Present

Day 10 was our first real day at Glover’s reef atoll. We started out with a snorkeling scavenger hunt on two of the patch reefs near the dock. It was so fun! Some especially exciting finds included a small barracuda in the sea grass beds, many bluestriped grunts all over the reefs, a yellowtail snapper, and damselfish defending their “gardens”. We didn’t see all of the organisms or processes on the checklist, but hopefully we will in the next few days.

After doing some transect and quadrat practice on land, we took these to the water post lunch to try and quantify two genera of green algae: Halimeda and Penicillus. Lying out the transects and counting the algae in the sea grass beds was really difficult, but hopefully it gave us good practice for doing it on the coral reefs.

We saw some really cool species during our afternoon snorkeling. Two nurse sharks were spotted. One was small and swimming around the dock. The other was apparently much larger and farther out past the sea grass beds, but I was a little too slow to see it! We also saw some more barracudas, and another ray. Unfortunately, my camera died, so pictures might be a bit sparse after this (yes Papi I know, I should’ve brought the GoPro).

I can’t believe how much we did today! After our second snorkel, we headed to a coral graveyard on the other side of the island. There we found the ground covered in fossilized coral pieces, so well preserved that we could see the details of specific species. It was both beautiful and a little sad, as some of the coral species seen in the fossils are now very rare. It served as a good reminder of the work to be done in order to save these fragile ecosystems.

Fossilized stony coral
Fossilized stony coral

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