Today was the big day, the final day of scuba diving, project preparation, and the final presentation of our findings. Before all the preparation of our data, we had two dives to collect more data. Our first dive was at West Dog Island in order to collect more data between complex and simple reef systems. In the process we were able to witness multiple trumpet fish and both a juvenile and adult spotted drumfish. Beth also told us when we surfaced that spotted drumfish grow into their wavy fins as juveniles and the length of their larger fins never alter in size. While collecting our lines and waiting in a five minute interval for species to come back into the reef, we also saw intermingling schools of blue and brown chromis fish on the edge of the fringing reef.
Back on the boat, we headed for the dive BVI coral nursery in order to first dive and collect more data, as well as clean some of the nursery trees of algae. The biggest contrast in simple and complex reefs came from this sample site as the simple reef group only saw one species whereas the complex group found nineteen species. After finishing our project diving and getting the results we needed our group swam over to the PVC coral nursery trees anchored into the sand. Both Wills in the group and I got to clean one of the trees that was suffering from the most algal growth over only a week. The job took plenty of time and effort to scrub each part of the unit to make sure the coral had the best conditions possible to grow properly. Upon emerging from the water, we learned that coral when coral grows around its ring that holds it in place, that the coral is growing healthily and steadily. After finally saying goodbye to the last time in scuba gear, we headed over to a dry salt pond in Virgin Gorda in order to observe the effects of the drought in the area as well as survey the ecosystem. Beth gave everyone a lesson about the residents of the pond, multiple types of crustaceans as well as bird that prey on smaller members of the ecosystem. Everyone was also told that the salt pond acts as a natural runoff for construction in the area, specifically from the silt that is stirred up. Upon racing back to the boats by way of swimming, everyone headed back towards the docks in order for the research groups to finalize their data in order to present their findings. After a long day, I’m looking forward but also dreading our last full day in the BVI.