Tuesday, July 31, 2012

MSI Update – Final Update for Session 1, 2012

The interns had a fantastic final week of MSI’s first session.  On Tuesday morning the group visited Rachel Parsons to learn about microbes.  In the afternoon, part of the group went to Natural Arches to collect algae, while the other part of the group went to Whalebone Bay to complete the navigation dive requirement for PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification.  When students returned, they classified the algae they found at Natural Arches and made herbariums.  The interns completed this task with assistance from Thea Popolizio, an algae expert from the Bermuda Aquarium.

On Wednesday MSI traveled with Waterstart to Dockyard, where the group visited the Nation Museum of Bermuda to learn about artifact restoration for items recovered from the Warwick wreck.  On Thursday, the group participated in fish follows.  The group spent time at Watch Hill counting parrotfish and observing their behavior.  The week culminated with an excellent Friday dive at the Hermes wreck.  Check out this video clip of our interns exploring the Hermes. 

Our interns did an amazing job during this first session we wish them the best of luck with their future endeavors as marine explorers and biologists.  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

From Acid to Lionfish!

Today Dr. Mara led us in testing the effects of ocean acidity on artemia. In this case we used vinegar to alter the pH of seawater in order to observe how it would affect their hatching. In the end we discovered that significantly less artemia were able to hatch in the lower pH created by the vinegar.

On the diving side of things, we had a great boat ride out to hourglass reef while waves rocked the boat. There, some of us went on a deep dive down to 60 feet where we saw many parrotfish, sergeant majors, and trumpet fish. When we got to the outer reef we saw a HUGE lionfish: about 17 inches long. After surfacing, Dready and Beth tried to go back down to spear it but alas! They couldn’t find it. No lionfish sushi tonight! 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Field Trip!

Following a hearty breakfast we took a bus ride all the way to the other side of the island to Dockyard, where we hopped off and met up with Doug Ingles, an expert on the wreck of the Warwick.

From him, we learned that although the Warwick was first thought to be a British merchant ship, after the recent discovery of many guns, canons and ammunitions during excavations this summer, Mr. Ingles’ team now believes the ship may have been a heavily armed privateer vessel in its day. We then explored some examples of concretions and methods of preserving weaponry, followed by a trip to the National Museum of Bermuda where Elena Strong showed us the new items in the Shipwreck Island exhibit.
Afterwards we headed out to Cooper’s Island where some of us did our Underwater Naturalist dive and others continued to experiment with underwater photography. Here, the fish were brightly colored and abundant. This made struggling against the powerful currents worth it. Thus concludes another fun day at BIOS. 

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lionfish, Navigation, Photography, OH MY!

Our Navigation dive didn’t start underwater but on the field, where we practiced our compass navigation through completing different patterns. We then moved to the water where we used our skills in a more realistic situation. This was a fun way to learn the essential skill of underwater navigation.


Our photography dive was exciting because it was a challenge to carryout our first dive using an unfamiliar skillset. On the dive we took photos of aquatic life whilst keeping in mind the factors of both color and light loss and absorption as we dove deeper. Although it was difficult to capture moving sea life, the dive was more than worthwhile.

O.S.F. Lionfish & Shark Presentation
Although most of us were aware of the presence of sharks and lionfish, Corey Eddy from the O.S.F. further educated us on the features, diets and impacts of these fish.  The presentation inspired us to contribute to attempts at lionfish eradication in Bermuda. Many of us were also surprised to learn about the various species of sharks that swim in these waters!

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Monday, July 23, 2012

MSI Update

Our interns have been very busy gathering data!  On Wednesday the team dove in Harrington Sound, where they measured the sizes and populations of conch.  On Thursday, the team did a fish count in the Bermuda mangroves at Hungry Bay with Dr. Robbie from the Bermuda Aquarium.  When the interns finished collecting data, they shared it with Dr. Robbie, who plans to use it with his research.  On Friday, the team measured the coverage of sea urchins at Concrete Beach off the shore of the Biostation.  Friday afternoon, the interns relaxed at a celebratory barbeque.


Today, the interns collected and identified different species of algae from the dock at BIOS.  Then, the interns learned about bathymetry and created bathymetric maps using clay to represent underwater terrains.  Finally, the interns created small ROVs and practiced driving them in fresh water tanks.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

MSI Week 2 Update
On Monday, the interns searched through Sargassum seaweed to find and identify as many different organisms living within the seaweed as they could.  The interns found various worms, crabs, Sargassum shrimp – Leander tenuicornis, Sargassum fish – Histrio histrio, and a baby nudibrach or Sargassum Slug – Scyllaea pelagica.  Check out the video below of some of the little critters the interns observed through their microscopes:

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    Sargassum Fish                                         Sargassum Shrimp 

Additionally, on Monday afternoon the interns traveled to the ship scar of the Mari Boeing to practice measuring coral recruits.  The interns laid down 30-meter transect tapes, placed quadrats next to the tape at randomly predetermined intervals, then measured the size of the coral recruits using vernier calipers. 

During the day on Tuesday, the interns participated in a DAN course that taught them how to  provide oxygen to people suffering from decompression illness.  Then, the interns snorkeled in the mangroves near BIOS and identified the different fish species living there.  Tuesday night, the interns participated in a special night dive at the wreck of the Dredger.  The interns saw many examples of nocturnal activity and had lots to say about it:


In their own words:

Jeral - While diving at the dredger I spotted a soapfish.  This was my first time seeing one in the wild.

Rawleigh - Le Night Dive at the Dredger wreck held a feeling of excitement for me.  The real revelation to me was the multitude of new wildlife that I had never seen before that emerged that night in the dim and murky water around the stricken ship. Among the new creatures to me was the Arrow crab, a Fire worm and a pair of Octopodes.

James - Last night’s dive was amazing. The wreck was bigger than I expected, with masses of coral growing off it.  We saw many different fish, from coneys to some octopi.

Kori - We traveled far into the depths of the Dredger searcher for all sorts of creatures lurking through the night. The creatures that approached me had different figures; Hogfish, Octopi, Doctorfish, Ocean Surgeon, Honeycombed Trunkfish, Arrow Crabs, Fireworms, Snappers, Goatfish, Breams, and LOADS of coral.

Joshua - Many of us didn’t know what was going to be down there.  It was amazing how many types of fish inhabited this massive ship. We saw a few coneys, triggerfish, groupers, and even some octopi mating. It was an exciting experience.

Megan - Its huge frame loomed in the darkness, and seemed even more eerie as we began our dive while the sun was going down. 60ft being the deepest I had ever dived, I was slightly nervous, however, within minutes I had forgotten my fear and was totally immersed (haha << get it .. immersed..) in my surroundings.

Eric - The valiant MSI team took a plunge into the dark depths where dwells The Dredger.  As the interns descended, colonies of Montastrea cavernosa battled for their existence.  A lone grunt erupted from a cloud of detritus.  Many floating creatures were ensnared by the traps of painted tunicates, which coated the surfaces of the wreck.  Anemones became active, stretching their tentacles ever farther to consume nearby creatures.  The team was taken by surprise when oddly misshapen hogfish swam through the skeleton of the ship.  Like the slaves of Circe, these fish are twisted to look like swine.  Had we stayed until more monsters of the night awoke, who knows that would have been the fate of the MSI team?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Week 3 Wrap-Up!

On Thursday we concluded our ocean acidification experiment! We had six groups count the number of brine shrimp that had hatched in one milliliter of both regular salt water and an acidic salt water and vinegar mix. Upon adding the totals, we saw that the lower pH negatively affects the hatching of brine shrimp.

As Week 3 drew to a close, the students continued to work at their scuba skills, and on Friday many were able to achieve Scuba Diver, Open Water, and Advanced Open Water certifications!

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Friday, July 13, 2012

MSI Update
Continuing with their exploration of the Sargasso Sea, the MSI interns concluded the week by studying fish and seagrass beds. On Wednesday the dive team practiced using
Stationary Point Counts by identifying as many different fish species as possible within a 7.5 meter radius cylinder at 5 minute intervals.

On Thursday, the interns traveled to Bailey's Bay to study seagrass beds.  While snorkeling, the interns laid down 20-meter transect lines, then laid down random quadrats along the lines to find the density of the seagrass in half-meter square areas.  They also measured the lengths of the sea grasses blades, shoot density, calcareous algae and organisms within their studied area.  As an added bonus, the interns got to do an extra snorkel just outside of Whale Bone Bay, where they were able to freely explore the reef and sea life.

Today, the interns traveled to Bailey’s Bay Flatts. In teams of two, they laid down 30-meter transects counting different fish using the belt transect method.  They also practiced roving diver observation by counting as many fish as they could within a 10-minute time limit.


The interns concluded each day in the computer lab where they diligently recorded the data they collected into spreadsheets, and practiced different methods of organizing, sorting, and graphing the data.  In addition to this hard work, the interns had two fun opportunities to test their knowledge of corals, fish, sea grasses, and plankton by playing Coral and Fish Jeopardy.  On Wednesday, Rawleigh won Coral Jeopardy, and today Eric won Fish Jeopardy.

In their own words
Rawleigh and Kori (in unison): “For SCIENCE!”

Finally, please enjoy this short clip of a rare Splendid Flat Worm that we observed on the reef at Bailey’s Bay Flats this morning.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Week 3! Watch-out!

As we jump into Week 3 of Waterstart, the students are delving deeper into the world of marine science. Mara has set up an ocean acidification experiment right in Clark Lab to explore the effects of pH on the hatching of brine shrimp. Today the students made their hypotheses and as the week continues, we look forward to results. 

New students took their first breaths underwater today, while our returning students began to advance their skills on a navigation adventure dive! Lucky for us, they have also become expert crewmembers!

Check out our facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/bios.explorer! Looking for more marine excitement?! Check out Bonnie Monteleone’s blog about her recent cruise from BIOS on the Atlantic Explorer at http://www.theplasticocean.blogspot.com/!

MSI -  Meet the Summer 2012 Marine Science Interns:

               James Biggs                           Eric Witte

           Rawleigh Tucker                    Daniel Maguire

              Jeral Jackman               Joshua Stephens    

              Kori Jackman                    Megan Thresh

Our interns arrived with a great enthusiasm to learn about animal life in the Sargasso Sea.  On Monday, they began “Expedition Sargasso” by practicing the point intercept method of data collection.  This method involves laying down 30-meter transect tape along the reef and carefully recording the different corals they find at each meter as they make their way along the tape. They went to the dive site Arches along the South shore of Bermuda to collect their first set of data.
On the way back to BIOS, the interns participated in a plankton tow.  This involves trawling for plankton using a large wind-sock shaped filter, then observing the collected plankton in a lab.  Through microscopes, the interns were able to identify a plethora of different organisms, including shrimp, arrow worms, copepods, krill, and a vast array of fish eggs.

Today, our interns continued their scientific investigation by collecting data using the belt and video transect methods at North Rock, the largest coral reef in Bermuda.  In addition to collecting data, the interns practiced underwater videography by filming along the path of their transect lines.  The interns were able to take the data from the two days of research diving to create bar graphs for both sites showing the distribution of coral colonies per meter squared for the top 5 most common corals in Bermuda.  The students also practiced coral identification and are looking forward to playing Coral Jeopardy tomorrow.

In their own words:
Daniel: Today I learned about different types of coral, and the frequency with which we find those corals along the North Rock… I also saw trumpet fish.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Diving into the Gyre!

Today we plunged into the science of Gyres with models on the dock.  We looked at how plastic trash accumulated in whirlpools in our buckets with motor-powered currents and discussed how this might relate to the large gyre known as the Sargasso Sea.

Heading out on the boat, some of the divers tackled their confined water skills while others investigated underwater digital photography and navigation!

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Ready, Set, FUN!

Today we began our second week of Waterstart! With thirteen new students, the experience levels this week range from beginner divers to advanced open water divers.

To get things started, we went on a fun “Tune-Up” dive with our more experienced students at Cooper’s Island. After JP helped them refresh their skills, we stopped at the Pelinaion Wreck for some amazing snorkeling!

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