Two days ago, after 24 hours of travel from Gainesville, Florida, I arrived on the island of Tahiti in French Polynesia to be a part of a research group conducting an intense week of field work. Just before reaching our final island destination of Moorea, I spotted the SSV Robert C. Seamans at anchor next to our ferry–the same ship that I sailed from Mexico to Tahiti in winter 2007:
My old bunk (bottom)! This the forward most bunk of the ship, which means I had many a dream of being catapulted into the air as the ship pitched 🙂
The ship was a sight for sore eyes and a reminder of many great people and adventures–certainly an inspiration to shake off the jet lag and get to work! And then these vistas further inspired:
The ferry has arrived! Nice to see you again, Moorea.
View of Tahiti from Tamae Beach lookout.
Cook's Bay with Mount Rotui to the right.
The purpose of this trip is to spend the week setting up a long-term experiment looking at the effects of a marine snail on coral communities. These uncoiled snails, called vermetids, are interesting little creatures that are highly abundant in Moorea and project wide mucus nets to capture food from the water column. These mucus nets cover the substrate surrounding the snail and may have a variety of effects on the organisms below (namely corals). Thus, our work will measure the longer-term effect of vermetids on the composition of reef corals to better understand how these snails may affect the composition of the reef.
Despite being in the middle of the Austral summer (stifling heat, lots of mosquitoes!), it should be an action-packed week. Plus, by pure coincidence, we happen to be overlapping with many friends on this trip, so we will certainly balance work with play. Here is a deck view at our hilltop bungalow, where many a gin and tonic will be consumed 🙂