From our scuba diving conservation holiday with whale sharks and coral reefs of the Maldives (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/maldives)

Everyone passed all the tests, both land-based and the in-water ‘pointy’ tests, where the trainers do indeed point at things and ask people to write on their slates what they think they are. We also completed our first Reef Check survey at Rasdoo, an exposed outer reef site, and encouragingly reefs were less affected by bleaching – the first reef check survey dive acts as a kind of final dress rehearsal, but if all goes well we use the data. It all went well.

One of our fish teams, however, did look a bit distressed when they came up from the dive. Rajiv had a wide-eyed stare and blank expression and when asked what happened, he just said that everything was ok until near the end and then ‘I was overwhelmed’.  ‘What do you mean?’. ‘I was overwhelmed by fish!!’. It seems that the abundance was a bit of an issue. So we’ve done a bit more work on estimating schools of fish in case it happens again…

Lots of fish...
Lots of fish…

The dive itself was a really nice one, with a relatively flat reef down to about 4 m and then a wall going down below our survey teams. With low current and good visibility in our favour, the work was done very efficiently by all and several teams managed to see the eagle rays, turtles and sharks that cruised past and even lay undisturbed (in the case of one of the turtles), right next to our transect line.

Diver
Diver

It seems the faster-growing species have been more severely affected than slower-growing massive species. It appears that even within the same massive species (e.g. porites), some are much more affected than others, at the same depth, side by side. Is this because some have bleaching resistant zooxanthellae (their symbiotic algae) and some don’t? We don’t know the answer, but we are trying to find out…

Bleached and unbleached side by side
Bleached and unbleached side by side
Shaha and Atho
Shaha and Atho

From our scuba diving conservation holiday with whale sharks and coral reefs of the Maldives

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