Sunday, September 18, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Several days of sunshine and calm seas have helped us accomplish a lot in the last week and kept us very busy.  We're also happy to currently number five "Coral Reefers" at Midway since Wendy and Joe joined us on September 8, so we can often divide into 2 teams on the water. 

We've been continuing bivalve surveys and reef growth, but also working on Wendy's coral restoration experiment.  All four of us have been working to find, photograph, and measure the finger coral (Porites compressa) nubbins we transplanted to Rusty Bucket patch reefs last September.  Joe and I also helped Wendy remove and process coral recruitment tiles and check the healthy Porites compressa reefs from which we removed the transplants.  Here's Wendy checking a large colony.
While we were there, I finally got a photo of me with my study organism, the black-lipped pearl oyster.  This will probably be on my family's Christmas cards this year!
At one point, Joe was on the boat while Wendy and I were in the water and a juvenile booby landed on his hand and stood there for about five minutes!  Both Wendy and I took lots of photos!  Joe was one of our Mitsubishi volunteers in 2008 and offered to come out and help us again this year for two weeks.  Although he can't dive here, he's been free-diving a lot and helping hugely in a variety of ways!
Joe also helped Don remove my cages while I checked my tiles for pearl oyster growth and survival.  We're spending a lot of time now removing experiments and installations in preparation for the end of the field season.  Joe and the FWS volunteers have been helping me remove the temperature loggers we have deployed all over the atoll.  Here's Don working on removing cages.
Life has also been exciting on the island as both the Coast Guard buoy tender Kukui and our cargo ship the Kahana have been here for a few days in the last week.  The Coast Guard ship has been repairing the navigation buoys and range markers around the atoll and ferrying people to and from Kure Atoll (60 miles away) for some construction projects happening there.  Here's a photo of the Kukui at work.
It's so unusual to have an extra 50 people (mostly young) all over the island, particularly since they had days off they spent enjoying the beautiful beaches and partying.  We also enjoyed having a cargo re-supply because we now have a big variety of beer, fresh milk, and a pinball machine!  Here Don encourages Chugach transportation worker Thawal (who has worked at Midway over 10 years) try out the new pinball machine.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Reef Growth, Rainbow, and More!

Again, we've keeping very busy as we approach our final two weeks at Midway.  Don and Kristin have been continuing bivalve surveys at sites inside the atoll, as well as measuring reef growth on the exposed reef rim at two sites on the east side of the atoll.  Here Don measures reef growth using a contour gauge suspended between three bolts permanently deployed on the reef crest.

FWS volunteers Dani and Eamon helped Kristin remove her spat collectors and buoys on Saturday and Sunday.  Kristin conducted her final check of all of the spat collectors sitting in a very pleasant shaded spot along the harbor seawall.  A manta ray came to visit several times, a rainbow appeared over the harbor, and a juvenile monk seal played nearby.

On Monday (Labor Day - no rest for these busy Coral Reefers!), Don also helped Kristin check her cages and tiles for survival and growth of pearl oysters with restricted and unrestricted predation (e.g., caging).  Don discovered a ledge and caves hosting at least 12 big lobsters at the Pinctada Patch site!

Between her continuing neck and shoulder problems and a deep cut on her hand, Anne can't go in the water at all.  Instead she's been working with Don to build a frame for and test our underwater video camera, which can be deployed overnight and uses infrared illuminators.

On a lighter note, the Coral Reefers enjoyed barbecued hamburgers, potato salad, and lots of other yummy foods at the annual Labor Day party on Saturday night.  Although the promised horseshoe and volleyball games never happened, several people (including FWS volunteers Amelia and Dani) did play Guitar Hero on the Wii!