Saturday, September 10, 2016

Sept 9, 2016
2nd Full day down

   Today the surface waves are particularly high. The waves are 6'-8'  and strong enough to rock the hab even 60' down. The place has been swaying pretty well. In fact, one of the cameras was knocked over and we had to reset it.The FIU sign on top of the hab is now underneath the hab as well..along with a nice nurse shark! Even Ben's sonar tripod was knocked over today. It is too heavy for us to move so we will have to wait for the boat crew in the morning.
   The waves make the buoy bounce around so much that the antenna on it has a very hard time keeping the Internet going for us. I tried to Skype with three schools today but could not maintain a good connection. Very frustrating. I did get to see my class and a few other classrooms briefly by facetiming them. It was very cool and also reminded me how much I miss my class.

  In the morning Ben and I set up the cameras, and placed the seagrass in the closepins. Each blade is 10 CM long. We measure how much of the grass the fish eat. We compare feeding rates between high turbulence and low turbulence areas. This is done by measuring each blade of grass when we retrieve them and graphing out how much is eaten at each time and each site. Then we see how feeding rates in both areas change if there is a shark around. The Gopros on each site record what fish are eating the plants and if a shark swims in the area. The sonar also tells us what time and how big the shark was and about how many fish were at the feeding sites.
 Ben is Happy his Sonar is working

I made Ben carry the heavy bag on this trip

Us peeking in to see what is cooking for dinner inside the hab....hope it is not fish

 Setting up the survey plots 

A finished plot

  After a period of time, the grass and the cameras are collected on another dive around 1 PM. The grass blades are collected in marked ziplock bags so we can tell what plots they came from. During this dive we put out new blades of grass and  fresh cameras to record for another set period of time,usually around 5PM.

   During this last dive we collect up the grass blades again, as well as the cameras, for measurement and to see what ate the grass and if sharks were in the area.

  Each time we come in from a dive we enter the habitat from underneath. This allows us to swim into the wet porch area. Unfortunately, a male sergeant major fish has been guarding a new nest of eggs. He has been biting Ben and me as well as pulling our hair. He is a brave little guy.
The Bossy Sergeant Major  looks pretty but he does hurt when he pulls your hair and bites you!

Aline storing his gear under the hab

   We did take a moment to pose for pictures of us outside the hab.. from the inside. :)

We do take a minute to have fun as well..


Ben barrel rolling

    In the down time I got some email though. It was so neat to see a video a teacher took of her class  reacting to the shark video I posted the other day. I got in a quick snippet of video chatting with them. Apparently, the thing to do is watch us on the cameras around the hab. I think we may be the experiment! I think it is so cool to be able to share this experience with classes around the world. I hope that they too become interested in science and especially how our oceans are something we have to preserve and safeguard.

   As the day wore on, we had two visitors. One was Tearany Tiss, a journalist from National Geographic. She was scouting out the hab for a future full visit. She also told me that she is developing a game for kids called Animal Jam. I will have to check that out.  I think she got Frances and Ben to do a short video that will be included in the game.  Kinda Cool!

  Finally as we ate dinner, our other guest showed up.  A Goliath Grouper. He is about six feet long. He hung out outside our window for about an hour. We all took pictures with him! We got to see him slurp down a fish for his dinner. one second there is a fish, next just the grouper. We all yelled out when he did it. I still think he smiled at us as he swam off.

A few minutes of down time

Thanks for the shirt Jerry at Into the Blue!

Roxy, one of the hab techs who keep us alive!

   As I write this..about 11PM, there is a big shark swimming just outside the light of my window. He is teasing me by just staying a shadow tonight.

  There is so much beauty down here. I have to share a few random photos with you from today.

View from our shower

Right outside the wet porch..literally at our feet.

baby puffer fish!

A baracuda smiling for the camera

Spotted Eagle Ray

Same spotted Eagle Ray

 A cool trunk fish

   Well I have finished my chai tea and it is about time to head to bed. Another big day tomorrow. This post will most likely go out in the morning since I can't get on the Internet to post it tonight. I hate going to bed here, because it means there is one less day in the wonderful, wonderful place. I could literally sit at this table and watch the fish all night long...and did until 1 AM!! :)

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