Our team here have made some lasting memories during their internship with us; some good and unfortunately some bad.
In this three part series of blog updates, let Cynthia, Gabriel and Merijn recap their time here on Cerf Island since we last left off.
"It’s almost the last day of May already, and it’s been a little more than a month since we first arrived here on Cerf Island. In the meantime, we have made ourselves useful to the CICP, but of course we also had plenty of time to enjoy ourselves!
When we arrived, the priority was to learn all the corals present here in the Indian Ocean and focusing on those present/surviving at Cerf. Remember the nasty-barbaric genus names? Well, now thanks to Savi’s teaching skills, we know them all and we did great on our coral ID final test! Little coral nerds we became, yes. My definitive favorites are the valley-forming corals, Platygyra and Leptoria, also known as Brain Corals. But we also learnt about some of the reef fish, so ask us whatever you want about the butterfly fish (our BFFs yep!), triggerfish, angelfish and parrotfish! I especially like to put all we learnt into practice during the guided snorkel tours. Most of the people seem to be very interested on it.
Most of our time goes into raising public awareness on the importance of coral reefs and their biodiversity, the dangers of marine pollution, and other threats. We do this by snorkeling with visitors who ask for a guide to teach about the things they can encounter underwater (not in the least the artificial reef frames!), but also by being available for questions when we are in the Cerf Island Resort office. People can also see us beach cleaning every day, so we carry out the message of keeping the beaches clean and placing your litter (as tiny a job as it is, taking away a white plastic bag that resembles a jellyfish, can save a hungry turtles’ life) in the appropriate locations.
When in the office we spend quite a lot of time measuring the coral fragments of the artificial reef frames. Pictures of them get taken on the same day every month, and by analyzing their dimensions with a piece of measuring software(ImageJ and Photoshop), we can see how much they’ve grown (or diminished!) over the past months. It seems like the Acropora genu is far ahead in terms of growth and survival (which is to be expected). Those colonies are doing great believe me! Except when a tourist decided to go coral shopping on the frames and detach some of the fragments to bake them in the sun hoping to bring them home…The corals had been out of the sea an hour and they were quickly rushed back to the reef.
Speaking of which, we are getting a new frame ready as I write! More stable substrate to place corals on, yay! We´ve started working on the artificial frames as we are preparing the welded rebar frames which will set on the reef pretty soon. First we have to cover the iron structures with resin and sand. Once they are dried and ready, we´re going to swim them to the designated location and we´ll attach some fragments from the nurseries and fragments from colonies on the older frames. Sounds pretty exciting!"