We spent most of our day today in the ocean, which was both super tiring and super fun. This morning the conditions were nice, so right after breakfast, we hopped onto a boat as soon as we could and took off for a reef inside the Marine Protected Area. We conducted similar surveys to the ones we did yesterday, but this reef was COVERED in fire coral. It felt like everywhere I turned there was another patch of fire coral and I was worried I was going to run face first into one (luckily it didn’t happen). We then headed to another reef but this one was infested by moon jellyfish which sting, so we had to scramble to get back onto the boat and it felt like being in the Matrix while we were trying to dodge the jellies.
Luckily we were able to find a suitable reef and we conducted our survey there as well. This reef was outside of the MPA, and I noticed there was a lot of algae but also way less fire coral which was much appreciated. We then took a break on the island and then headed out to the forereef, which was much deeper and had much larger coral than the other reefs we had visited. Also, we got to swim along the reef wall which was right next to the drop off (we didn’t get to touch the butt).
Between all of the reefs we visited, we saw a nurse shark, some squid, butterflyfish, parrotfish, pillar coral (super rare), Elkhorn coral, some southern stingray, and I even spotted dark spot disease on a coral! Overall, today was a full and exciting day!
I didn’t get to see any echinoderms though, but it’s alright since I was spoiled yesterday. Hopefully, we’ll get to see some tomorrow. Also, we might be doing a night snorkel depending on what the group decides tomorrow, but I think that would be awesome! Echinoderms at night??? Who knows?!