Monday, August 29, 2011

From Low to High

Aukai's ridiculously nice artsy fartsy picture

This past Tuesday was another coring day for Sherril! As usual we split into two teams and took four plots each. It was very overcast which meant cold! Becky had brought some shorties (wetsuits) with her and kindly let me borrow one.
Jessica getting towed by the kind Daniel

My teammates for the day were Becky and Sam (and Martin... kind of). We started with the plot farthest in the pond and worked our way out. All the while dreading plot 65 or "the deep spot". Rotating turns recording, coring and doing algal cover we made our way through the first three plots.
Sam and his sediment core!

Then came plot 65. As Becky and Sam finished up plot 86, I took the GPS and map to attempt finding plot 65. I walked along the makeshift wall along the puka and actually got really close coordinates. While waiting, I saw a puffer fish and some other unknown fish (which was pretty big). Sam and Becky made their way over and when Becky started swimming I knew it was pretty deep. Thank goodness it was just that spot and the actual plot was only a little deeper than most other plots.
Agal cover fun!

Thus ended the day! We got back to shore and chilled while the water samples were being filtered.
Paddling instead of walking. (Seemed like a good idea but it was just as fast as walking and it made my arms hurt.)

This week we also had a Saturday workday! It was supposed to be and Aunty Donnie day but it didn't work out. (I hope her kupuna gets well soon!) When we arrived (~9am), the tide was pretty low so I checked the tide calendar. Each day has two low tides and two high tides. The lowest of the low tides or as I call it low low tide was ~8am and the the highest of the high tides (high high tide) would be ~3pm. At first I thought this to be bad but as it turns out it was a very wondrous thing! Again we split into two teams each taking four plots each (the last eight plots!). This time I was with Sam and Aukai. Saturday was hot and sunny (got sunburned) but fun. I admit that our group was a little slow because I got distracted by taking macro pictures with the camera.
Algal cover
Some Gorilla Ogo (Graciliaria salicornia) inside the transect.
Sediment core inside the transect.

On the way out of the pond, the tide was rising which led to the makeshift wall becoming a sort of waterfall/standing wave. It was nawts (excuse my spelling). One of the coolest things I have ever seen. I didn't think that the incoming water would produce such a strong current. I could walk straight because it was so strong.
Water coming into the fishpond.

We also caught two crabs that were in the boat and released them back into the fishpond. For some reason when we released the big crab I kept imagining that one seen in Finding Nemo when the crab gets away from the seagull. Here's the link for the clip if you don't know what I'm talking about:
The crab after being released from the net.

Even though Saturday was an unexpected workday, it was still enjoyable thanks to the awesome people I get the pleasure to work with.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Day of Cleanliness

Starting off the work day with a boat ride to the first site.

Week of August 16, 2011

Last week we took it nice and easy, a day of counting, cleaning, and measuring. We went to every station to first count the algae in each plot (caged plot, cage control plot, or bare plot), to measure the amount of lime we laid down a quadrant (set up in a 4 by 4 size) then counted the how many of the quadrants had limu in them, we also recorded the type of limu (Graciliaria salicornia, Acanthophors spicifera, etc.) in the plot. While some interns were counting, others were cleaning the cages of any unwanted algae because this could cause unwanted results in the research that is being done. While cleaning the cages, we found that many young crabs like to hang around the cages to feast upon all the algae that has been growing on them. When this happened questions would arise: could the crabs change the habitat of the surroundings, are the crabs inside the cages eating all the limu, and others like that. I believe that the crabs sure enjoy the cages especially since they have all the food they can eat and a very cool hang out spot.

Even though this may have felt like a day of leisure, work was still done. Cages were cleaned and checked to make sure they were in proper condition, limu counts were taken at every plot, and we were even able to learn a little about the different crabs that would come across us.

Like all work days it was a day filled with fun people and getting to know them better as time goes on!

right: At one of the sites, Megsie demonstrates first how to use the quadrant to count limu and everyone else begins work on cleaning cages with brushes.

left: Having the power of the clipboard, intern Frances, gets to be in charge (only at this site lol) and makes sure everyone is helping out in one way or another.

right: This Samoan crab may look like he's angry, but all he really want is a BIG HUG!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Smashing Success!

Tuesday, August 9/2011

What a great afternoon to do some sampling of phytoplankton, microphytobenthos, and macroalgae!!!

The interns are eager to start and continue sampling for Sherill's project.

We are checking our map, and checking it twice, literally. As the one loan wolf of each group must wade out into the fishpond first in order to find the proper GPS co-ordinates of our designated station. Alas, we have reached the proper co-ordinates, so let the sampling begin. At each station on the map (about 139 in total) we start by measuring the water depth. Then to sample the phytoplankton, we put a dark bottle (a bottle which doesn't allow light to penetrate through) about 20 cm below the surface, open the lid and let the phytoplankton organisms flow in. The contents of these dark bottles are then filtered through so that just the phytoplankton remains on the filter.

Next, we sample the macroalgae. This requires some finesse with a snorkel and a weight belt. We are interested in the biomass, so to aid in this we did 3 quadrats. For each quadrat we counted how many boxes (out of 25 in total) contain Gracillaria sp., Acanthophora sp., Kappaphycus sp., or mixed algae, or bare sediment. If present we collected a box that contains these species. We must also measure the canopy height of each species if present. Today we find primarily Gracillaria sp. which could be because we are sampling in stations that are very close to the remaining mangroves around the fishpond. Only time will tell.

Next, we sample the microphytobenthos (mpb). Ooo the real fun begins. We get to play around in the mud! To sample the mpb we take 1 quadrat and randomly cored 3 different boxes within that quadrat. To take a sample we took an adapted syringe (which we cut off the end to stick into the sediment) push it as far in as possible and put a rubber stopper on the end to create a suction. Viola we have a core! We then pulled out the syringe and start to push the sediment to the top.

We then put a core section piece, which measured 1 cm tall, and pushed the sediment sample through until it was par with the top of the 1 cm piece. Then we put a slicer through, just under the 1 cm piece. We now have our sample, but wait, alas, we are not quite done yet. We then must subsample. To do this we took a straw and stuck it into the 1 cm piece, with the slicer as the base platform. Then carefully, and thoughtfully, yes I said thoughtfully, we lifted the 1 cm section piece over the straw and carefully put our subsample that was left in the straw into a dark test tube. To do this we huffed and we puffed and we blew into the straw to force the sediment into the test tube.

So that concludes this portion of sampling the PMM (the acronym that I now just made up to stand for phytoplankton, macroalgae, and microphytobenthos) of the fishpond. Although I am sure that acronym has already been said. Stealing my thunder of course.

So...was this day of sampling above our heads?! I think NOT! We came out victorious and successfully sampled and filtered 8 stations in 4 hours. I concur this Tuesday, August 9th to be a smashing success. Pat yourselves on the back interns!