We did some of that today. Real science, I mean.
This exciting labwork was made possible by the fieldwork we did the last two days. We found a site we liked and began to set it up yesterday:
What we’ve done is fragment a single coral colony into a number of pieces that will be either caged and left alone, like this one, or caged and placed in the proximity of a diffusing bag of fertilizer. The cages are just a way to minimize complications such as corallivory, and the important part is the difference in the corals exposed to extra nutrients. After the experiment is finished, we will look at the microbes in the coral tissue and in the surrounding water; we expect that extra nutrients will cause the microbial community to be different between these treatments. Such differences could be related to disease.
We set these cages up while freediving and hammering nails into rocks. Since all the fringing reefs we’ve found have been at less than ten feet of depth, we thought snorkeling would be easy enough.
After a few hours of somewhat successful construction efforts, we packed it in and decided to come back in the morning. As we were leaving, a friendly local gave us papaya and grapefruits, and asked if we were aware of the excessive numbers of stonefish at the site. We replied that we had no idea that we had been walking around in shallows that were known to be infested with poison-spine bearing fish. We then promptly decided that in the morning, we would be taking a boat and diving. No more of those snorkeling from shore shenanigans.
Thus today, we headed out for our first boating and diving experience in Mo’orea:
We finished up the construction quickly and then took some water samples. Back at CRIOBE, we’ve spent the rest of the day processing the samples with filters and bottles and centrifuges, oh my! But we did find some time to snap a couple of sunset pictures:
And tomorrow: water transects! If we’re lucky, a trip to the outer reef!