The interns continue to regale us about their experience here at CICP...
"Time in the office is also entertaining. We continued working not only on coral growth monitoring, but also on turtle monitoring! Basically, we use a Photo-Identification program (Interactive Individual Identification Pattern) that recognizes the individuals based on some natural marks that they have on their face (the "scutes" or the scales are their identifiers the way we have unique fingerprints). CICP have tried to take mugshots of them during all encounters, so that we are able to log every encounter. We mainly encounter Hawksbill turtles and one of them was so recognizable that one day we could differ it while we´re snorkeling! From the beginning of 2016, about 17 Hawksbill turtles frequent the reefs around Cerf Island with some very photogenic individuals! There’s plenty of other creatures to see here while snorkeling, such as different species rays (Eagle, Feathertail, Whiptail just to name a few ), octopus, and one of the largest moray I have ever seen!"
Don't worry Merijn, we will do our best to encounter a white tip reef shark before your leave!
"Also, we carried out other activities like Coral Reef Mapping. The idea was to create maps for the different snorkel sites to provide the vistitors with an aerial representation of the coral reefs with highlighted points of interest. To achieve this, we had to go snorkeling several times to check the important points (large coral colonies, artificial frames, buoys, etc.) that had to be included on the map. At the end, it was very funny to check the maps we got so far and compare the drawing skills of each of us (I gave Merjin a hand with his map). Now, there’s no way to miss all of the nice spots on the reefs or to get lost ;)
We also carried out transects to assess the benthic communities both living – corals and sponges for example - and not-living – rocks, rubble, algae etc. At the same time, we also assessed the bleaching of the corals of the reefs. It was a very nice activity!"
Though a few colonies exhibited bleaching symptoms from the usual warm months of Mar-Apr-May, it was such a relief after last years disastrous El-Niño event.
...Stay tuned for part 3!