Tag Archives: brown and red algae

Day 6: show and tell

The wind is too strong so we did minimal snorkeling today, but I am really loving all the free time we’re getting! First we collected specimens from the reef to identify at the wet lab. I got 7 identified species of brown and red algae, which was quite exicting: Dictyopteris deliculata, Turbinaria sp., Sargassum fluitans, Jania capillacea, crustose coralline algae, Amphiroa sp. and Hincksia mitchelliae. I also had 3 or 4 WTF? (unidentified).

Several of my brown/red algae, plus other taxons.

And, it was great to finally see everyone’s taxons laid out neatly and identified.

The green algae tub.
A mix of taxons living in harmony: 2 mollusks, 1 echinoderm, 1 herbivorous fish, 1 green algae.
An anemone turning itself inside-out in its death throes. Yikes.

The 2 celebrities of the day were Squishy the baby octopus and Trash Crab (formerly known as Hermy)!

Squishy, slightly off center in the picture. He’s kind of transparent. I LOVE HIM

Trash Crab was a tragic example of the effects of marine debris…

He wasn’t able to properly curl into his plastic shell, so he dessicated and died soon after we found him. RIP Trash Crab, you will be missed.

Just before dinner, we had a speedy 30-minute snorkel, which was honestly above my skill (fitness) level. The current was incredibly intense and when I finally reached land, I’m pretty sure I flopped onto the dock gasping for air like a dying fish. Team Turf! But I’m proud that I at least tried that snorkel and made it out alive!

Day 5: Mangroves of Averageness

In the so-called Mangroves of Death, I wasn’t attacked by a single mosquito! What a disappointment. I took two trips through the mangroves today; first we hiked through to count Christmas tree worm populations on different species of coral on the back reef. Ellie and I found zero on our section of the reef, as did most of the other groups, so we couldn’t really draw conclusions about Christmas tree worm host preference.

However, we did find a huge donkey dung (sea cucumber).

Then a small group of us did a trash pickup in the mangroves… even after 30 minutes of 4 of us working we barely made a dent in the amount of trash in one small area. 🙁 The totals that the class picked up around the island turned out to be 2460 pieces (18.46 kg) of plastic, 488 pieces (3.98 kg) of foam, 36 pieces (5.80 kg) of glass, and a few more kilograms of rubber, fabric, metal and wood. It was really impactful to actually go out and try to clean up all the litter on this environmentally protected island– imagine the total amount of trash in the oceans if 11 of us were able to pick up 25+ kg within 30 minutes on Glover’s. And it shows how much sanitation depends on a country’s wealth and infrastructure, because clearly Americans produce much more trash per person than the inhabitants of Glover’s.  It makes me wonder where all of our trash goes in the US?

After dinner, We had several hours of free time (whaaat) and played beach volleyball, caught up on journals and blogs, and at around 8, we hung lights off the dock into the water to watch the ocean nightlife. It was the most relaxed night I’ve had in a long time, watching the glow of the light through the water and swarms of silver fish, while being cooled off by the strong breeze.

As for my brown and red algae, I unfortunately didn’t notice any in the back reef as I was too focused on not bashing against the corals; sorry corals!!

Day 4: rustic math

I seriously can’t believe how much we get done in 1 day by getting up 3 hours early! We went to a non-MPA patch reef today to do transects the same way we did yesterday. Snorkeling has gotten much easier; I feel like I can kind of navigate gracefully and not flail around kicking things. I saw tons more algae in the non-MPA reef, mostly crunchy red coralline algae with short knobby branches covering the ground (not sure of species). We decided that might be because of increased human activity putting excess nutrients into the reef, or overfishing.

Branching coralline red algae.
A clump of Jania capillaceae.

We then swam to a more reefy area to collect non-MPA urchins, which were much harder to find than yesterday’s. I may have seen the red algae Pterocladiella capillacea here (?):

Please enjoy some Finding Nemo-esque shots of the reef!

On the boat back to Glover’s we played with several stragglers in our urchin bucket, including this brittle star.

After lunch we quickly whipped up a poster using our amazing rustic math skills, complete with slides…

Then we had lectures including a talk on Belizean culture and history by Javi—this was really interesting, it makes me wish we had more time to explore the cities and ancient ruins in Belize. He explained why there are so many Chinese people here—they were brought as servants in the 1830’s and also immigrated in the 1980’s, but didn’t really integrate into creole Belizean culture. But now the younger generation of Chinese are starting to mix with other ethnic groups by going to school with them, eg having creole boyfriends. That was crazy to me, imagining growing up in a Chinese community within Belize and integrating into the surrounding culture. Hopefully I can find a Chinese person and ask them before we leave.

Day 2: skeleton pile!

We moved in to Glover’s Reef today, starting traveling from the TEC at 6 am and arriving at 10:30. (It is seriously amazing how much we can pack into one day.)

Picking up speed. Hi Jordan and Sarah G!

The water started getting beautifully clear as we approached land.

On the boat ride here we saw pretty big mats of Sargassum fluitans, one of my brown algae, which I sadly didn’t get a picture of. Then we settled in to our cabins at Glover’s, greeted by tons of lizards, hermit crabs, and the awesome manager Kenneth (Sargeant Safety).

Then we had our first snorkel, a scavenger hunt on a patch reef. I am slowly adjusting to breathing with my face underwater…

First underwater picture, ahh!

The picture quality is surprisingly good underwater. It’s actually clearer than what I saw through my foggy snorkel mask!

The reef was covered in more brown algae, Turbinaria and Padina (mostly Padina jamaicensis). They seem to always to grow together.

After drying off, we hiked to the coral graveyard, aka the skeleton pile, aka Adrienne’s paradise. There were so many amazing coral skeletons, and we spent a couple hours learning to identify them:

A big hunk of Pseudodiploria cavernosa.

Montastraea cavernosa (?) + a subtle shot of my field journal. I am being such a good TFB!

Another brown algae comment, the shore next to our cabins have mats of washed-up Sargassum. It seems like it’s either floating in the open ocean or washed up on a beach, but not over reefs—maybe because the currents either push it far out to sea or onto the shore?

Overall, it was really cool to see what I’ve been reading about out in the wild! It’s such a relief to be able to identify exact species; all that research paid off!