Today was another day of assessing reef health and collecting urchins, but this time in a non-protected area of reef.
The first thing that struck me about the reef was the abundance of sea grass, specifically turtle grass (T. testudinum), as well as algae. However, there were still many beautiful sections of reef that were packed with soft corals!
The predominant soft coral I saw while snorkeling through the reef was the common sea fan (G. ventalia). I noted a few interesting observations regarding these sea fans. I saw that a good number of them had white spots indicating that part of the coral had died, as well as some whose holdfasts had become unattached from the reef framework, causing them to fall down. I also saw a couple of animals feeding on the sea fans, including a flamingo tongue snail and (surprisingly to me) a surgeonfish of some sort.
Finding sea urchins to collect was significantly harder on this patch of reef, but I felt as though there were more large fish like angelfish, tang, and snapper swimming through. I also saw a huge porcupine fish and a nurse shark in some crevices of the reef.
After returning to Glover’s, the afternoon was quite relaxing. As a class, we analyzed the data we collected in the past two days then made a poster presentation of our results and findings. I played a game of soccer (my team won!) before dinner, and had lecture for a couple hours. I even had time after class to swing on the hammocks and talk to Dale and John, two researchers here at Glover’s. All in all, today has been a nice, relaxing change of pace. So much so that I think I’ll have enough energy to wake up early and see the sunrise from the observation deck tomorrow.