Today I was awoken by a pleasant bird chirp, not too loud but loud enough to wake me up at 7:15 to be at breakfast by 8:00. Breakfast was again in the Guavaberry commissary as Casey supplied huge chocolate donuts. Beginning during breakfast and continuing after, Dr. Shannon Gore again gave us a lecture, this time about Turtles and Turtle Tagging. Discussing the different techniques, Dr. Gore highlighted the Manta Tow method that we would be using. This technique entails being dragged by the boat and catching the turtle by placing one hand on the neck of the carapace and the other on the back of the carapace. However, it is possible to grab smaller turtles behind the front fins and hoist them out of the water. Arriving at Guana Island, we let out two lines behind the boat and pulled four snorkelers through the water as they searched for turtles. The idea was for a snorkeler to spot a turtle, raise his hand to signal the boat to slow, and dive down and capture it for tagging. However, after not seeing any at Guana Island we moved to St. Thomas Bay to snorkel for turtles. Again we didn’t see anything so we called it a day and headed back to the marina where burgers awaited us. Big thanks to Dr. Shannon Gore who made it possible for us to catch and tag turtles. After strolling around in the marina for a little while we got on Sea Monkey, set up our gear, and were off to the Jesuit Reef. While Casey laid transects outlining the Jesuit Reef zone, Laura and the MB2 students remained on the boat. Giving us our dive objective, Laura discussed how to collect data about our replanted corals. Our data included a base measurement, height measurement, and limb count for each coral sample. All the data collected will go into a database so that we can examine changes over time in the size and shape of the coral. Together Christian Koeijimans, Jeff Melsheimer, and I examined about 20 different replanted coral pieces over an hour. The most exhausting part of the entire day was by far helping pick up the transect line. At the end of the line was a wheel to roll up the line. However, at first neither Christian nor I could figure out this intricate device as we slowly and exhaustingly swam along collecting the line. After heavily analyzing and experimenting with this enigmatic device we finally figured it out and managed to collect the line much quicker. Everyone rendezvoused at Sea Monkey and we headed back to land to wash up before dinner. Again we headed to Mad Dog’s for dinner which tonight consisted of salad and lasagna. Having eaten a sundae the previous night I decided to lay off the sweets to maintain my Terminator-like physique. Following dinner we just relaxed and talked to Jeff McNutt who relieved the college glory days and answered our endless questions about his diving experiences. Awesome day today. Can’t wait for tomorrow!
Image 1: Replanted piece of coral after 1 year
Image 2: Failed attempt at photographing replanted coral
Image 3: Mr. Kirby, Dr. Gore, and Jeff during turtle tagging (shout out to Julian Michaelis for the picture)
Image 4: Replanted Elkhorn coral