Tag Archives: conch

Critter Collection

May 24, 2019

Today, we spent the morning collecting data in two coral reef locations. Liz and I used a similar underwater language today to communicate. We were recording points with live coral or sediment, so cupping our hand into a “c” meant live coral and crossing our index and middle fingers meant sediment.

Exploring the reef after our data collection was incredible. I spotted many fire coral, mostly branching fire coral (Millepora alcicornis) but also some blade fire coral (Millipore complanate).

Later, we returned to the sea to scour an area of seagrass for critters that we could bring in to examine more closely – no hydrozoans or jellyfish were found, but we did gather some other amazing finds, including an octopus, two fire worms, a West Indian sea egg urchin, a sun anemone, and many more. My favorite are the conchs because they’re shells are beautiful, and they have strange little eyes on long eyestalks.

My Special Hermit Crab Trash Friend Died Today :’( (Day 6)

Unfortunately, today the weather was still too windy to go to the reef crest or to do the night snorkel. Instead, we did specimen collection on the back reef and a quick dive on the patch reef before dinner.

In the specimen collection, we picked Udotea flabellum, Halimeda tuna, Halimeda monile, Halimeda incrassate, Dictyosphaeira cavernosa, Caulerpa urvilleana, Acetabularia calcyculus, Penicillus pyriformis, Valonia utricularis, and Rhipocephalus phoenix green algae.

Some brown, red, and green algae samples we collected.

We also brought back a Sun Anemone, a Mantis Shrimp, a Queen conch, circle marked brittle sea stars, a bearded fireworm, and a baby Caribbean reef octopus.

A Queen Conch

During our dives I spent a lot of time looking for fish. I saw more Blue Tangs, a Spotted Moray eel, a French Angelfish, Four-eyed Butterfly Fish, a Cat shark (?), a Grey Angelfish, and French Grunts.

The tail of a Spotted Moray Eel.

It is hard to believe that tomorrow is our last full day on Glover’s Reef. It will be nice to be less salty than I’ve been, but I am really going to be sad leaving this amazing place, especially if we don’t get a chance to go to the reef crest before we go.

Day 2: First Time Snorkeler (05/17/2017)

I’m up at 5:00 am. My bags are packed. I eat a PB&J, and we are on the road. The drive from the Tropical Education Center to the pier in Belize City isn’t too long – around 45 minutes. Our team transitions to the boat, and we are off on the two-and-a-half hour boat ride to Glover’s Atoll, our home for the next seven days.

Glover’s Island

Soon after our arrival to Glover’s, we went snorkeling – my first time ever. The colors of the reef seemed like they were from a centuries-old oil painting. I was anticipating a full color pallet of hues, but the corals’ tones were warm-colored and muted.

Snorkeling in the water seemed out of body – like I was an avatar in a video game. Still not fully used to the controls of this unfamiliar type of movement, I felt awkward in the water, despite swimming competitively in high school. Every movement was calculated, taking into full consideration each dimension of my unfamiliar setting – Who is behind me? Will I bump into any coral nearby? Is my snorkel still vertical?

The reef was teeming with busy creatures. During my brief hour-long escapade, I encountered many types of fish, including baby barracuda (Genus Sphyraena), a baby nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum), and a large southern stingray (Dasyatis americana). The only echinoderm I found was the bleached skeleton of a large red heart urchin (Meoma ventricosa) on the seafloor. The skeleton was about 6 inches in diameter and partially covered in algae. I also held a conch shell with a fleshy body inside. His eyes stuck out of his head like the eyes of Mr. Krabs from Spongebob Squarepants. My superstar sighting was a porcupinefish (Family Diodontidae) hiding under a rocky ridge. The fish was difficult to photograph, but with its massive size and bright colors, it was easy to remember.

After the swim, we explored a coral graveyard, studying the skeletons of centuries-old corals. It was interesting to witness how corals vary in formational shape, as well as polyp size and arrangement pattern. After dinner, we closed the day with two taxon briefings (including my own on echinoderms).

My first time in the water was surreal. I am eager for the next wave of adventures tomorrow will bring.

Sea-rious Business

On the boat
On the boat

Today we traveled to the reef, which was very exciting for me. It has been a long time since I went to an ocean, and it was so nice to remember how much they make me happy. I feel so calm tonight looking out at the moon rising above the waves through the palms.

We also got a chance to do a short hour of snorkeling before dinner tonight. I saw a few Queen Conch, but other than that not too many molluscs. I was spending too much time trying to figure out my snorkel to spend a lot of time looking for them, so tomorrow hopefully I will find more.

Queen conch in the sand
Queen conch in the sand

On the island where we’re staying (Middle Caye) we have seen about a hundred hermit crabs and a whole bunch of larger crabs as well. While we were snorkeling we also found a blue tang surgeon fish and some barracudas.

I was able to identify some of the stony corals still even though coral reef biology was a couple years ago by now. I definitely saw some Porites Astriodes and Sudodiploria Strigosa.

It’s going to be an incredible week here at Glovers. I’m very excited.