<Editor’s Note: also check out the missing pictures added into past posts>
Hello blog readers! This is Michelle and Aly writing the blog today. As our research projects are underway, today was mostly devoted to gathering data. We had an early start at 8am, having to fill our bellies quickly before hopping on the truck to be dropped off at our destinations. Here’s a brief explanation of our research project details. The Coral Reef health group is evaluating corals using a square meter grid, taking pictures of each square and measuring the individual corals inside the grid. Later, they will calculate the percent coral in each grid.
Two groups are looking at distribution and aggregation of hermit crabs in rocky intertidal zones, which involves painting many shells with various nail polish colors. The boys really enjoy this time for personal manicures! One of the brittle star research teams is investigating distribution, while the other is testing their reaction under different light conditions. Our biggest group of five students is studying coral preference of Christmas Tree Worms by lying several transects and counting all the worms within the area. The final group is looking at distribution of chitons. These projects require a variety of tides and locations, which means we are in different places at different times. Unfortunately, a Green Turtle sighting occurred with only one group present, but they came back with pictures as evidence!
After lunch we headed out as a group, which is a rare occurrence these days! Our destination was Snapshot Reef, which are familiar waters as it was our fourth time in the area but today was especially beautiful since the sun rays were beaming into the water. This also provided time for the Christmas Tree Worm group to gather more data for their research while the rest of us simply enjoyed the view and identifying all the creatures we’ve been learning about.
As you may imagine, the second half of this trip has been flying by! This may be due to the fact that we’ve had to face new challenges in conducting independent research projects, and rarely have any down time. However, the occasional break is much appreciated! This is where the true hard work comes in and many students are discovering it takes a certain amount of determination and stubbornness in order to gather data in the field on a daily basis. We are learning how to be flexible and deal with undesirable working conditions. It’s safe to say that the majority of the group is eager to get home to the families we miss, but once we do we will definitely miss this awesome experience.
by Aly Saba ’14 and Michelle Brumm ’15