Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gasping for Breath . . .

In our last few days before our advisor Don Potts arrives, we've been trying to get everything done that we possibly can free-diving and snorkeling, so we can maximize our scuba diving time when I finally have a dive buddy.  So I've been free-diving for bivalve surveys to 10 ft, which is okay if the habitat is just sand, but much harder when I have to turn over lots of pieces of rubble to look for bivalves.  Free-diving so much, even to a shallow depth, is exhausting!  Ray helped me do that on Saturday and I was very excited to find one pearl oyster on a piece of rubble.  We also saw a shark, a big orange hermit crab, and a few collector urchins.  Ray and I also retrieved a large net, one of several I've helped remove this summer.

Here's me searching for bivalves in a rubble/sand habitat and the one pearl oyster I found there.

I also had to free-dive to check my tiles, which was not the plan since they're at 7-15 ft deep.  However it worked, at least until this turtle suddenly appeared right in front of me and scared the hell out of me just after I'd seen a shark!  He circled around me several times, so I have lots of great photos of him!

I also checked my spat collectors for bivalve recruitment (or rather I retrieved them and Anne checked through them while I checked my tiles in the water).  They're singularly uninteresting right now because we moved nearly all of the pearl oysters to tiles and we're receiving very little recruitment so far this year.  I even looked for two pearl oysters that Don and our field assistant Kate had found in the harbor two years ago, but found no pearl oysters - there was some cool calcified green algae Halimeda and lots of juvenile fish and Spondylus cliff oysters though.  

The last two days, despite beautiful weather, we've stayed on land because we don't have much more work to do on the water without being able to scuba dive.  We've done paperwork, mailed off a sample of pressed algae from the bloom we saw last week, and power-washed the boat today, which was exhausting and very, very hot in the sun!!

We're looking forward to having Don here tomorrow because we can scuba dive and we'll have someone new to work with!  However, we'll miss lots of people leaving tomorrow, including FWS permit coordinator Ray Born who came out on the boat with me several times, Leanne Woodward who was here to facilitate a study of how the tsunami affected the Bulky Waste Dump on the south side of the island but tells hilarious stories at meals, and refuge biologist Pete Leary who's going on vacation but won't be back before we leave.

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