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.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Saturday, 3:00 p.m. - On this lovely afternoon the TRUE dive team was blessed with the oppurtunity to visit the Neidemeyer's coral nursery, where they have been collecting and asexually creating more and more A.Cevircornes over the past few years. The dive group consisted of the Neidemeyer family, the TRUE dive, and a few members of the coral restoration foundation. We went on 2 seperate dives while we were at the farm, and split up all the work in between the different groups. The different jobs were as follows; cleaning the algae off bases of the corals, hanging the corals on line similar to a "hydroponic farm", epoxying the baby corals to bases, and moving rubble without fins.

Saturday Night, 9:00 p.m. - While the world is getting ready for bed, the TRUE dive team is getting ready to go on another coral spawning adventure. The dive group was essentially the same as the afternoon dives were, except an added cameraman. Once we got to the reef, half of the divers went in at around 9:45 and stayed down for 45 minutes, while the second half went down at around 10:15. It was quite an exciting dive, but I find all the night dives to be exciting. But, as with the other dives, it was another unsuccessful dive trip without a spawn. And we are all hoping that today will be "the day."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

sporal conning

As much as I hate to restate things, here's the saga so far:

Thursday, 7:00 AM- we leave from north st. petersburg on our sojourn to key largo. this takes just under 6 hours.

Thursday, 12:15 PM-we arrive. The dive shop and drydock are just as we left it all those months ago, not a thing has changed. The captain is still the serious but friendly man I met 2 years ago. The deckhands are new, but I like them, too.

Thursday, 3:00 PM-we're on the water. yo ho ho and a bottle of compressed air, and all that. we're acclimating ourselves to the restoration site, and the current isn't helping. it's to be expected, of course, but still, Odin could stand to lend a hand.

Thursday, around 5:00 PM-we feast. chinese food (in hindsight, not the best thing to eat before a night dive while working with delicate coral) is our muse. pretty straightforward.

after that, we go back out to watch the A. Cervicornis. nothing happens, as the tablets predicted.

Friday, Noon- we're on our way back to the drydock. same plan tonight, but during the day we're just diving on a couple reefs (the Benwood and French Reef) for gits & shiggles (and fish counts). nothing to report.

Friday, around 5:00- we get back for dinner, only to meet three new arrivals; Zach, Chrales and Jeff. I hadn't seen Charles in months, so that was cool. Jeff Dunbar and I hadn't hung out since the DC trip, so this was a glorious reunion, to be sussinct.

we proceed to follow the same plan as yesterday, except this time, we're met by the entire Nedimyer armada (and friends), and dive the Acropora site again. Jeff and I are dive buddies, and we try our hardest to will the corals to spawn.

Saturday, 12:20 PM (now)-turns out Dr. P is down with some sort of sickness, and the weather seems to be taking a turn for the worse. clearly Odin is testing me for weakness, and I will not disappoint him. today we sail for the nedimyer nursery.

Until my next contact,
Matthew "Frenchman" Mostrom

Friday, August 27, 2010

8/26/10... DAY ONE!

Hey everybody! Andrea here writing from Key Largo, woohoo!!!
Quite excited to be here :)
So T.R.U.E caravaned down here from St.Pete at seven in the morning and we literally drove straight to the dive shop (a rather uneventful 5.5 hours), and stayed Italicthere till 12:30 a.m. We have Dr.P back from his hiatus with the oil spill ('cuz if you haven't heard, he's kind of a big deal... and I mean kind of as really).
We met Andy and Katie from the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF), who are pretty cool :)
They showed us how to set up spawning nets and collection containers ect. (more on that in a bit) on our way out to the dive site, Molasses Reef, to do recon dives in order to orient ourselves for our night dives.
There are four teams, blue, pink, yellow and green each assigned to certain corals. All teams are responsible for A. cervicornis, except pink, who's on the palmata. We rove around monitering our respective corals for signs of setting (when the gamete bundles are in the polyps' mouth, this indicates it's aboout to spawn) in which case we put the net over it. The nets are cones of mesh with a small screw top container affixed to the top with a peice of foam (so it stays upright) and a lead line on the bottom so the net won't float away. When the corals spawn they release thier gamete bundles, which are bouyant and thus float into the container (there's a hole in the lid attached to the net). Once this is full you take a lid without holes from your big mesh bag'o'tricks (that's what it feels like at least, with all the collection containers and extra nets and floaties... but I digress) and position it right next to your full container. Then you adroitly unscrew the full container, taking care to keep it flat so no spawn escapes and screw it into the lid. Matt and I can do this quite well but our practice was during the day and without spawn, although I'm confident we'll excell at this when it's the real deal, which almost happened!
On our night dive blue and green teams went in twenty minutes after pink and yellow and we roved around from blue coral to blue coral (they're not really blue but have a marker consiting of a blue sponge tied to a bolt right next to them) until Libby noticed one of them with its lower branches setting! The tenacles on the polyp were out more, looking almost turgid (this was around 10:35p.m.) She called Andy over to reconfirm since he was near by and Matt and I placed the net over it. Unfortunately our dive was over mere minutes later and we exited the water leaving the net behind. Katie picked it up for us since it wasn't actually set, the bundles were getting ready, pushing the envelope, reelin' to go.
Besides the excitment of the spawning event I'm ecstaic to be in such alovely place as Key Largo. Every time we come here I'm blown away by how amazingly blue and clear the water is. And then on night dives, once you're off shore the stars are fantastic! One can even see the Milky Way! Alright, NOW I'm rambling..... Hopin' for spawn tomorrow.

P.s. Hi Coral! You're dad's sitting behind me and mentioned you might read this. So, HI!!!

TRUE Acropora Spawning Trip 2010

The Teen Research Underwater Explorers have arrived in Key Largo for our 2nd annual Acropora Spawning Research Trip!!! During the days, we will do some of our favorite dives in the upper keys, conducting fish surveys for REEF and Bleachwatch for Mote Marine Lab. While other folks are tucking themselves into a nice warm bed at night, we will be heading out to do multiple night dives under the moonlight on the Florida Keys Reef Tract.

This year, we are pleased to be working with Katie and Andy of the Coral Restoration Foundation. We are collecting spawn from Acropora cervicornis, staghorn corals, at the Wellwood Restoration site on Molasses Reef. These corals were transplanted by the Coral Restoration Foundation in 2007, 2008, and 2009. The goal is to collect gametes from different known genotypes of corals, cross-fertilize the samples, and create "test tube corals", hopefully developing a strain of Acropora cervicornis that preserves the best characteristics from each genotype. Sorry for all the scientific mumbo jumbo. I am sure you will be more interested to hear our story told from the mouths of our Teen Explorers. So, here is the "rest of the story...."

Libby Carnahan
TRUE Education Officer