DAY 7 — Last full day at Glover’s Reef! It’s been real. We had a full morning of snorkeling, in the channel of the atoll, some shallow patch reefs called the aquarium, and around the patch reef off the dock of Middle Caye. Before even getting in the water, we saw a spotted eagle ray from the boat.
In the channel Jordan pointed out some Dendrogyra cylindrus coral, which lived up to its “skyscraper” analogy. I also saw a lot of Parrotfish (Sparisoma viride) and a cute little black fish with electric blue spots. There was a lot of orange icing sponge (Mycale laevis) all around the reefs today.
We rode the boat to from the channel to the aquarium, and the ocean was the color of blue gatorade, not an exaggeration at all. In the aquarium, we saw a nurse shark and I saw a bunch of Christmas tree worms. We also saw a yellow sting ray.
I saw some new species of sponge today! Thanks to Alessi for sharing her camera so they could be captured on film. The Black Ball Sponge (Ircinia strobilina) was scattered around the channel. They had characteristic apical clusters of oscula and charcoal color. I also possibly saw the Stinker Sponge (Ircinia felix). There were also plenty of Scattered Pore Rope Sponge (Aplysina fulva).
PHOTO OF IRCINIA STROBILINA
After lunch we had a lecture on anemones, zoanthids, and coralimorphs and another on mangroves and seagrasses. Then we launched into a lionfish (Pterois spp.) dissection. Alessi and I got the most majestic lionfish of the six that Scott caught. We named him Azlan.
A side note: lion fish are a nasty invasive species in the Caribbean. So catching lion fish is an ecosystem service, a fun opportunity for dissection, and an excuse for Scott to whip up some ceviche.
Using NOAA protocol, we weighed, measured, sexed, and dissected the fish. Azlan had recently eaten a juvenile Yellow Wrasse, which we found in his stomach. We compiled our group data and compared it to data collected by a previous EBIO 319 group in 2015.
And then. Island enjoyment! Captain Buck took us over to a nearby island, Marisol, where we enjoyed each other and refreshments. Thanks to a nice smelling fisherman, we were able to procure a shirt to sign. Our EBIO 319 2017 shirt will live on in the small bar on Marisol.
Back at Middle Caye, we ate another delicious meal before presenting our lion fish data analysis and breaking down our quadrats *single tear*
I’m planning on waking up for the sunrise tomorrow for a final taste of paradise, aka Middle Caye.