Friday, August 29, 2014

Back to port and headed home

Acoustic recorder deployed on a reef in northern Palau
(Photo: M. Kaplan)
After our rare opportunity to travel down to the remote Helen Reef, we headed to the very north of Palau - Kayangel - to collect visual survey data and water samples for seawater chemistry. Just like at Helen Reef, we had great support from local Rangers, who took us to our various sites on their boats during our time there.

Two days later, we were back in port in Koror. From there we continued our data collection on local boats.

Feather star (Photo: M. Kaplan)
I was able to collect approximately two-week long recordings at three reefs, in addition to a 24-hour recording on a northern reef. These data, when examined in the context of the visual survey and water chemistry data, will allow me to make inferences about links between sound production at these reefs and the physical, chemical, and biological environment present there.

Over the course of approximately 20 dives, I was able to see some great marine life, some of which I have included here. Palau's reefs are some of the nicest that I've seen. In many places I saw large fish, which are rare in many parts of the world. Palau is working to protect these resources, and is currently planning to ban commercial fishing in all of its territorial waters. If they proceed with these plans, Palau's marine resources will continue to be a big draw for tourism. Of course, increasing numbers of visitors bring with them other environmental problems.

The expedition ended with a trip to a Jellyfish Lake, an enclosed saltwater lake with very dense swarms of non-stinging jellyfish (photo below).

I am grateful to Anne Cohen and her lab for inviting me along on this great trip, the boat drivers at PICRC, and the Captain and crew of the M/V Alucia, whose hospitality and vessel support was instrumental in making this trip a success. This trip was also an opportunity for me to field test the acoustic recorders that I will be using next week in Maui, when I deploy them for approximately 4 months. While most of the recordings were flawless, a couple glitches highlighted some areas for further improvement. Without the hard work of Jim Partan and Walter Zimmer, these recorders would not exist in their current form and I am especially grateful for their engineering efforts.

Max Kaplan

Moorish idol (Photo: M. Kaplan)
Moray eel (Photo: M. Kaplan)
Octopus (Photo: M. Kaplan)
Sea cucumber (Photo: M. Kaplan)

Whitetip reef shark (Photo: M. Kaplan)
Jellyfish in Jellyfish Lake, Palau (Photo: M. Kaplan)

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