Today was by far the most tired I have been on this trip. I had to pry myself away from my pillow as I prepared for a very important day. After another light but filling breakfast on the dock, we headed to Long Bay that had been destroyed by runoff from the adjacent island during construction. Easily passing Sea Monkey although they left before us, Sea Dragon has continuously upheld its superior reputation. Our first order of business was an observation snorkel, in which we looked for healthy coral that could be candidates for replanting. We saw several specimens of staghorn and elkhorn coral, as well as other marine life including eels, squid, jellyfish, and a spotted drum fish. We returned to the boats that were tied together, forming a large party barge. Lunch came, and we dined on sandwiches and fruit. After being briefed on our coral tagging and data recording for growth study, we suited up and went down to collect coral samples for replanting. To do this, certain sections of elkhorn and staghorn coral colonies were broken off to reproduce asexually. Because these corals were surviving, we wanted them to reproduce asexually so that they would have the same gene makeup. Our hope is that once these corals grow larger and reproduce, they reproduce sexually, creating genetic diversity and potentially better genes for survival in their environment. Elkhorn was more difficult to find and so less pieces were replanted, but just under sixty total pieces of coral were replanted. Each piece of coral was given an identification tag telling which boat planted it, which type of coral it is, the length of the main stalk, and how many branches it had. After each of these were recorded, a suitable spot was chosen and the coral piece was zip tied to the substrate. Fire coral, a coral that can deliver an annoying sting, was abundant in the area, and some people were stung. However, stings were small and short-lasting. During my second replanting, I had the coral zip tied and done, however, after Casey looked at it more closely, she picked the piece of coral up easily-I had missed it completely with the zip tie, embarrassing would describe the situation. She then went about pulling the zip tie off of the rock it had been tied to and helped me get it established in a different area. We completing our replanting and hopped back on the boats, throwing oranges back and forth. We went shopping once we got back to the marina and then continued back to Guavaberry to shower up before dinner. Again, we made the walk to Mad Dog restaurant and had some surprisingly delicious wraps and macaroni and cheese that absolutely hit the spot. We finally recorded our dives in our logbooks and trekked back to our cabins. All in all, it was a great day in the BVI, helped rehabilitate a reef and got a fantastic tan while doing it.
Photocred: Mr. Kirby, photographer extraordinaire