Island Hopping Adventure!: Volume 2

Last Wednesday, we left at dawn to survey all along the south shore of Tahiti, in our ongoing effort to understand the causes and consequences of population booms of vermetids (reef snails that have been implicated in coral die off)—See previous post for more details. We lucked out and had great weather, allowing us a striking view between our home island of Moorea…

Our beautiful home island of Moorea from the stern of the research boat.

…And Tahiti:

Tahiti, dead ahead!

We decided to conquer the most challenging sampling site first: underneath the famous wave Teahupo’o (see it in all its glory here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RXGY9KDifU). As you might guess, surveying the reef for tiny snails within small study quadrats (PVC squares) underneath a high-speed mountain of water is pretty challenging. Here’s a video of me trying to work under these conditions:

And if you’re signed into Facebook, check out my Kiwi co-worker, Snout, as he tries to work at the same site, without clutching the reef (funny stuff):

But despite being tossed around like rag dolls a bit, we got all the data we needed and moved on. The rest of the day was pretty stress free compared to Maiao two days earlier, aside from when I spotted an oceanic white tip shark when we were passing between Tahiti Iti and Tahiti–beautiful animal, but very intimidating to swim with… Luckily, we never saw him/her underwater, and the workday went on as planned, allowing us to tackle 10 sites along the south shore of the island. Also, on the way home at the end of the day, we trolled for just a few minutes and caught a benito (small tuna)– Dinner doesn’t get any fresher!

Tahiti: Check! Last but not least is our home island of Moorea…

Mike

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