Day 9: Another day in marine science paradise

All of the students have contributed a post to this blog.  The remaining posts will be on a volunteer basis… our first is by Adam Armbruster:

Parrotfish

A large stoplight parrotfish busy feeding on algae

Today was nothing short of another extraordinary day in this tropical paradise. After breakfast we loaded up good ol’ Truck S and headed out to begin our third day of research. Our destination today was Dump Reef, where we laid our transects out and got to work right away. Shortly after taking our first dive underwater to scrape off algae in our first quadrat we heard splashing from the shore, but being the scientists we are, we kept working without a worry. While calculating percent cover of algae and counting herbivore pressure over a ten minute period, we kept floating along our transect lines. As we made friends with the herbivores that passed above our quadrats (when all we really wanted them to do was to take a bite of algae so we could record data) we found ourselves huddling together like sleeping sea otters; some of us even latched together to stay safe in the waves barreling down on the shallow reef [Professor’s note: we think our budding young scientists are being a tad dramatic about the one-foot seas]. While we worked away we still could hear that splashing and it was getting closer. We soon found a large pack of “water dogs” “gracefully” entering into our territory, I mean scientific research area. But really it was a university that was just learning to snorkel and were not aware that doing the doggy paddle has no use when you have fins on – Dr. Carlile is very proud that we have come a long way from this in our snorkeling skills.

bro pose

Adam and Zach give us a preview of “July 2016” on the UNH Marine Bio “Bro” Calendar. They’re not kidding… there are a lot more of these pics.

Being the efficient young scientists we all are, we finished up our data collection and headed back to Gerace to get to sorting and weighing our collected algae. Again our efficiency got the best of us and after we finished our labwork some of us even took a quick break to walk the beach and relax before our next adventure of the day. While some of the group decided to take the afternoon off, Kayla, Zach and I headed to Rocky Point with our professors for some recreational snorkeling. We floated through the waves observing all of the diverse ecosystems that this area had to offer. Swimming over the large sea fans, we watched as various parrotfish and tangs swam below us… some of us even pretended to ride on their backs, we were that close (okay that was only me). We were even able to catch a glimpse of a young bottlenose dolphin riding a sea turtle with an American flag in tow as it was being chased by a hammerhead shark (Dr. Kelly may say it needs to be a tiger shark [Professor’s note: we’re pretty sure it was actually a whale shark with a narwhal as a sidekick]), but really we just wanted something outrageous to tell everyone that was back at the research center. But who knows, that outrageous thing may come tonight during our night snorkel back at Dump Reef. Who knows what we’ll see… a school of sharks, sea turtles feasting on the Thalassia beds, or maybe Zach and I will just have to settle for another picture for our “bro calendar” (these will seriously be available shortly after we return from the trip). Anyways the night dive stories will be told tomorrow, and yes mom, we will all have dive lights.

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