Thursday, August 17, 2006

Here's Kathy looking for inverts in this Giant Barrel Sponge. Needs rotation....
The "coolest" time of day is lecture time. (Classroom is air conditioned)
Mel with Fiona.
Here are Deanne, Brenda, Kelly, Dana, & Helen at the dolphin swim.
Hi everyone,

Sorry to have missed yesterday’s post but we were unable to access the computer….

Wednesday morning we visited the Mangrove at Man O’ War Cay. Mangroves are like the wetlands to the Great Lakes… the nurseries of the reefs and open waters. We also snorkeled at the back reef and found the patch reefs to be wonderfully healthy. We were able to collect specimens to examine more closely on the boat and different types of algae for an invert “pick” lab after lunch.

The highlight of the critters in the algae was a small reef octopus! Stay tuned for some pictures of him or her…

After the lab we went to Fish Den for our afternoon dive. There were huge Yellowfin and Black Groupers at the mooring. We also saw a Slipper Lobster, a couple of small morays, an Arrow Blenny, and lots of healthy corals.

Dinner was a BBQ on the Key with local island entertainment.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

This morning we went to the south side of the island to a famous dive site called Mary’s Place. It has huge blocks of the reef that have broken away from the fringing reef due to tectonic activity leaving 5 foot wide channels over 80 feet deep. The channel walls are covered with black corals and deep water sea fans.

On the way back to RIMS we had an opportunity to visit Smith Bank, a pristine shallow area that has nearly 100% coral cover! The corals are mostly Staghorn and Finger Coral with some Lettuce Coral as well. This may be the only place in the Caribbean with such a large area of healthy Staghorn Coral!

After lunch we had a sea turtle lecture. Unlike Great Lakes area turtles, sea turtles cannot retract any of their body appendages into their shell. Their feet have become flippers for better propulsion.

The afternoon dive was at Overheat Reef, named for the dive site where the engines on the old dive boats from AKR would overheat! We saw a huge Mithrax crab, spiny lobster, and an unbelievable number of smaller reef fish. Corals are healthy at this site too.

Will try to post some more photos….

Garry for the TME Group