This week I learned 37 different types of coral. We had been going over coral every day and I am now able to recognise them when we do snorkel surveys, which is amazing.
We go out on the boat to various diving and snorkel spots, and do to line transect surveys, and we measure the coral colonies. The coral we have seen the most of this week has been mustard hill and symmetrical brain as far as I’ve noticed. Its exciting being able to identify these foreign living things that I had only previously seen photos of and had tried to draw several times. I knew so little about the reef before coming here, and now I know it’s all one living thing along with the seagrass and the mangroves.
The most recent coral survey we did was in a beautiful site called “the swash” which is in the preservation zone. It was incredible to see the difference in the coral and the amount of fish. Everything is much more vibrant and colourful. We organised it so that I would identify the coral and take down the names, then two of the other volunteers would measure the width and height.
We saw such an amazing variation in species, and so many parrot and angel fish, and one moray eel that came out of the coral as one of the other volunteers was measuring it. I also saw two lobsters, which were the first ones I’d properly seen that weren’t completely invisible behind the rocks. We identified and measured around 25 different species, and I was amazed at how comfortable I’d become with recognising them under the water.
There are still some corals that I would love to see before I leave so I hope I will be able to. I noticed how odd it was to see how they changed, and the difference in them, like watching them feed, and the various diseases some of them had. And not even that but seeing how the fish interacted with them - the reef grazers cleaning them, and some fish using them to hide away or have as their home. Some of the fish were very territorial about their coral patches and we would watch them warding off stray fish, sometimes even us. To think they are all living together in one neat little habitat co-existing and keeping each other alive is mind boggling. I would happily spend all day watching them all, and am very grateful for having been able to learn so much about them already.