Friday, August 17, 2012

MSI Session 2 Update
Our interns had a busy conclusion to their 2nd week.  On Thursday they participated in parrotfish follows to determine some of the differences between male and female parrotfish behavior.  In the afternoon, they learned about bathymetry and created bathymetric models and maps using clay and transparency paper.

On Friday morning, the interns identified algae by collecting various samples from the dock next to BIOS.  In the afternoon they went on an algae scavenger hunt, and spent time in the lab classifying what they found with guest algae expert Thea Popolizio, from the University of Rhode Island.

Additionally, this week our interns spent some time learning about Lionfish.  This is a very important subject for everyone to learn about because the lionfish are an invasive species that is very dangerous to local ecology of Bermuda.  Here are the facts our interns learned about lionfish:

Diet:  Carnivore
Average life span in the wild: Up to 15 years
Size: 11.8 to 20 in (30 to 47 cm)
Weight: Up to 2.6 lbs (1.2 kg)

·      Can have up to 18 dorsal fins that are similar to needles - A lionfish will often spread its feathery pectoral fins and herd small fish into a confined space where it can more easily swallow them.
·      Their needles contain defensive venom - If attacked, a lionfish delivers potent venom via its needle-like dorsal fins. Its sting is extremely painful to humans and can cause nausea and breathing difficulties, but is rarely fatal.
·      Feeds mainly on fish and shrimp – They hunt mostly during the day, and in the nighttime they hide in small underwater caves and under ledges.  Its stomach can expand to 30 times its normal size.
·      Habitat: coral reefs and shallow bays - Native to the reefs and rocky crevices of the Indo-Pacific, although they've found their way to warm ocean habitats worldwide.
·      Family: scorpion fish – They are also called turkey fish, dragon fish and scorpion fish.
·      External spawners – A single female lionfish can spawn over 2 million eggs per year.
·      They Can be cooked and eaten as food.

Lionfish are a problem for Bermuda because:

·      In Bermuda they have no natural predators.
·      Lionfish prey are commercially, recreationally, and ecologically important.  Dense lionfish populations can consist of over 200 adults per acre, and can consume more than 460,000 prey fish per acre per year.
·      People have to kill 27 percent of their population just to keep their numbers the same as they are now, and that’s a big task.
·      They are an invading intruder that has been known to breed at an alarming rate of 30,000 to 40,000 eggs every four days.
·      They are gathering their forces at 200ft, which is a deeper depth than recreational diving permits.  They come up into the shallows to spawn. 
·      The current methods of regulating the lionfish population range from spear fishing to the use of experimental traps.
·      Many people believe the lionfish invasion is the worst environmental disaster the Atlantic Ocean has ever faced.  It’s worse than an oil spill because you can plug an oil leak and mop up all the oil and it dispenses and goes away.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

MSI Session 2 Update

On Monday the interns used vernier calipers to measure baby corals at the ship scar of the Mari Boeing wreck site.


Tuesday morning the interns went to Clearwater Beach to watch the release of the sea turtle Pinney, who is part of the Tour De Turtles.  Check out this video of the turtle release:

Tuesday afternoon, they went to Cathedral Reef, where they did fish follows of butterfly fish to learn about butterfly fish diets.

This morning, the interns entered the data from the previous days’ dives in the computer lab.  This afternoon they are heading to Hour Glass Reef to participate in a deep dive.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Waterstart Week 6!

This week at Waterstart the students were especially enthusiastic. While the majority worked on their Advancedd Open Water certification, some worked on their Open Water as well.

This week was unique because of the perfect weather conditions which allowed us to spend a few days on the North Shore. As Phoebe Heslop described Wednesday’s dive at the Madiana wreck, “We were all so lucky that the water was so clear and calm. This allowed us to visit both Hog Breaker and the Madiana! It also allowed for amazing visibility. I had so much fun this week with all the amazing diving as well as the fun people I was with!”
While Phoebe enjoyed the company and visibility, Tyler Dickinson was fascinated by the two wrecks The Madiana and The Pelanion. In his words, “Diving on a wreck is very special to Bermuda and is probably one of the best diving experiences.”

This week was special because the students stayed at BIOS on Thursday night, allowing us to have a bonfire and night dive at Whalebone Bay. One student glowed that, “We had great times together and have an unbreakable bond between us. We saw each others true colors at the bonfire and had so much fun!” When discussing the dive Jessica Petty said, “The night dive was completely hectic, seeing as the entire population of fry was attracted to our underwater lights! We managed to penetrate their walls, but with a lot of chaos! It was amazing!”

As the week drew to an end, it was clear that our students had bonded over these experiences and many  more. We hope to see many of them back for future Waterstart adventures!
To learn more about Waterstart, visit us on Facebook at http://www.facebookcom/bios.explorer!

MSI – Session 2 Update

On Wednesday morning the interns participated in a fun dive at the Madianna wreck.  They followed that up with a second dive at Rock Up Reef, where they did stationary point counts to identify as many different fish species as they could.

Yesterday, the interns dove at Crescent Reef, where they did fish counts using the belt transect and roving diver methods.  Check out this video of our interns hard at work doing their fish counts.

When the interns returned to BIOS, they created bar graphs to represent the fish populations they counted on their dives.  Then they played Coral Jeopardy, which Caroline Vanacore won.

Today, the interns identified different species of sea grasses growing in Bailey’s Bay.  Additionally, they measured shoot density and blade height of turtle grass.

The interns are eagerly awaiting next week's activities, which will include deep water and night dives.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

MSI Session 2 Update:

Introducing the BIOS Marine Science Internship 2012 Session 2 Interns:

 Jamie Gauk

 Hattie Woodward

 Eliza Gardner

 Caroline Vanacore

 Jackie Buchanon

On Monday our interns started off by searching through Sargassum to find organisms living within the patches of seaweed.  The interns found swimming crabs, Sargassum fish, shrimp, and a sea hare, which is a type of nudibranch.

Then the interns headed out for their first day of diving.  They practiced laying down 30-meter transect lines and identifying the corals found along the transect.

Today, the interns practiced identifying corals in the lab.  They also looked at Zooxanthellae under microscopes.  Additionally, the interns practiced separating coral from algae.  During today’s dive, the interns practiced coral counting and videotaping strategies.

In their own words:  Jamie
“Today we laid a 30-meter transect and counted coral colonies along the transect.  Then we video taped the coral face approximately a meter to the side of the transect.”