Our third and final island to survey for vermetids (snails that are linked to coral die off in French Polynesia—read more in my previous post) was our home island: Moorea (pictured above). We surveyed each shoreline—north, east and west, over three days. To give you a better idea of what our surveys are like, I’ve uploaded a video clip of one of our dives off the west coast (This time we were diving in Haapiti, another famous surf spot, as evidenced by the surge in the video. BUT, It did not compare to the big wave in my previous post…) :
As seen in the video, we place quadrats (square metal frames) on top of the reef at different locations and count up the number and species of vermetids as well as branching corals that fall within the square. By doing this many, many times in many locations (and across islands), we are able to get a better sense of vermetid distribution patterns and how these patterns may be linked to potential drivers, such as human development.
Fortunately, the weather cooperated nicely throughout all our inter-island surveys, aside from a little rain. But who cares about rain when you’re submerged all day anyway?
In the end, we completed all of the work we set out to accomplish and got to experience some epic scenery while island hopping. The video below features our triumphant boat ride home along the north shore of Moorea after completing our final site survey–kite surfing, trans-Pacific yachts and a lush-green mountainous backdrop are all regular sights on the way to/from work out here:
The inter-island vermetid survey is now complete for this summer. We had a great time and a great team, and I look forward to what these data can tell us about vermetids and how we might better understand their role on the reef. Now, and for the rest of the summer, I will be conducting experiments for my dissertation (read more about the topic here). Stay tuned for more South Pacific island adventures for science!