Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fingers Crossed!

Preston Perez, Incarnation Catholic 7th grade, Tampa, FL

Last night on August 6th, the TRUE Dive Team embarked on a mission to watch the staghorn coral spawn. We left the dock around 8 o'clock and motored out to the beautiful Molasses Reef on the wide and comfortable Orion (Florida Keys Dive Center). Some of the new Explorers stayed back, because they weren't used to the rolling waves on the reef and rock the boat like there's no tomorrow.

We entered the water at 9:00 pm, starting our first dive. We all picked out various sets of staghorn coral and started the observing, AKA staring. This staring went on for over an hour, and afterwards I felt like I had gone cross-eyed. We thought we may have noticed a little puffiness, but no definite indicators that the coral would spawn.  After an 11 minute surface interval we headed back into the water, with our fingers crossed once again. The staring repeated itself once again.  In the end, we monitored the coral until 11:15pm, and no spawning was observed. We heard from the other research groups in the upper keys and they turned up empty handed as well.  Even though we were a little discouraged we're really hoping that it will spawn tonight. It is a waiting game-wait on the coral, wait on the weather, wait and see.

Gale Porter,  TRUE Explorer, Junior Plant High School, Tampa, FL

Monday, August 6, 2012

Here's Hopin that Third Time's the Charm!

Hey-o all! We braved rough seas and looming storms to bring you.... still no spawn. Despite the lack of spawn, we saw a massive moray eel, several squid and the turtle and octopus from our first night made another appearance. I'm always pleasantly surprised and impressed by the younger explorers on these trips. The rough seas made a couple of people sea sick but they didn't complain and even got back in the water- #troopers. WIth the advantage of having a large charter boat and the storm hanging ominously in the distance  rather than right over head, we were able to "outlast" the other, smaller research vessels.
On the bright side we learned that the coral spawned Saturday night around 11pm in the CRF laboratory, later than expected. Mr. Stephens and myself both noticed the slightly puffy look last night we remember from years past when the corals prepare to set so there's great optimism that tonight will be the night. We're planning on changing it up by going into the water a bit later to sustain our air, so when the corals spawn tonight (and we really hope they do)- we have enough time to stay submerged for the duration of the spawning.

Andrea Lee Schmidt, incoming Freshman at FSU and diver extraordinaire

Sunday, August 5, 2012

To Spawn or not to Spawn?

Last night (8/4/12) TRUE went out to Molasses in order to collect staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) spawn from the once a year coral brodcast spawn. The staghorn on Molasses have been grown from fragments by The Coral Restoration Foundation, and transplanted onto the reef with the aid of an underwater apoxy.  Our first dive was at dusk and was intended so we could get to know the layout of the corals we would be monitoring.  Our dive leaders laid transect from near the anchor line to three coral sites, marked by strobes.  After the short 20 min dusk dive it was time to split into groups.

Six teams were created, A1 A2 A3 for the first shift and B1 B2 and B3 for the second shift.  The first teams dropped first for a 20 min dive, to be relieved by the second group of teams. While the first teams switched tanks, the second teams monitored the corals. While monitoring we needed to get as close to the corals as possible in order to observe if they were setting or not. Setting is the process which occurs immediately before spawning. Unfortunately, the spawn did not occur last night, and we came back empty handed, aside from some great encounters with a gigantic turtle, an octopus and squid. We will be back tonight to hopefully observe and collect the spawn!

Joseph Guerrera, East Lake High School Senior, Senior Explorer

TRUE Dive Team Monitors Acropora Coral Spawning!

On Saturday, August 4, 2012, the Teen Research Underwater Explorers left Tampa Bay, Florida to head to Key Largo for a coral spawning reserach expedition.  In collaboration with NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center, TRUE is monitoring Staghorn Coral, Acropora cervicornis, at Molasses Reef in Key Largo.  The corals were farm raised and transplanted to Molasses Reef by the Coral Restoration Foundation, Key Largo, Florida. Three years ago, the TRUE Dive Team monitored farm raised corals spawn on Molasses Reef. That was the FIRST time farm raised corals were observed spawning in the wild!!! We are excited for another exciting expedition!

Libby Carnahan, TRUE Vice President

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The mission of the Teen Research Underwater Explorers, or T.R.U.E. Dive Team, is to use marine science and SCUBA diving as tools to mentor young adults (ages 10-18). The hands-on experiences are designed to promote science, active stewardship and conservation of our oceans and coasts, while also building citizenship and leadership capabilities for future generations.

Monday, August 30, 2010

August 30th, 2010

Unfortunately, the Acropora didn't spawn again last night, but that's okay becuase i saw my favorite fish on the day dive yesterday, and we got to dive aquarius. Plus, i got a really good picutre of a moray eel and a great barracuda. :) Even if the Acropora didn't spawn, I'm really excited to see whether or not the Montastrea will spawn. Those are my favorite type of coral, so it would be pretty cool to see them spawn. Today, we're going to Mr. Nedimyer's lab which should also be really cool because so far we've only been to the coral nursery so it will be a good chance to see what happens beyond the nursery.

Monday August 30, 2010

The Smithsonian crew has been monitoring acroporids in Carrie Bow, Belize for the past 4 nights (Aug. 26 - Aug. 29). We did not observe any spawning this month. However, last month a mass acroporid spawn was observed here in Carrie Bow.

Here are Raphael Ritson-Williams' observations from last month:

Full moon night of July 25th

July 26th-No monitoring

July 27th-No spawning observed. Monitored small patch reef, too rough for CBC reef.

July 28th-No spawning observed-monitored CBC reef from 7:45-9:30pm.

July 29th-Observed Acropora palmata spawning. Only a few colonies and one or two branches within those colonies. Monitored CBC reef from 7:45-9:45pm.

July 30th- Observed Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis spawning. This was a large spawn of A. palmata (set approx. 8:10 pm and release 8:45 pm). Many colonies released gametes and typically it was the entire colony. We also observed a few A. cervicornis release gametes shortly (approx 20 min.) after the A. palmata. Monitored CBC reef from 7:45-10pm.

July 31st- Observed Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis spawning. This was a large spawn of A. cervicornis. Many colonies released gametes (set approx. 8:15 and release 9:10 pm) and typically it was the entire colony. We also observed some of the same A. palmata colonies release gametes as on the previous two nights. Monitored CBC reef from 7:45-10pm.

August 1st-Observed one A. palmata colony release gamete bundles. Also observed 5-6 Siderastrea siderea males releasing sperm (10:05-10:20pm). Monitored CBC reef from 9:15-10:30pm.

August 2nd-No spawning observed. Monitored CBC reef from 9:40-10:20.