Monday, November 5, 2012

Monitoring, and Weather, and Presentations...OH MY!

Well, seeing as how it has been five months since you’ve heard anything about the monitoring program, I thought it would be a good idea to give you an update.
Piti Monitoring Site
The long-term monitoring began at the end of July this year, and it was an exciting start since it began with the establishment of monitoring stations in Piti Bay, a new monitoring site. The monitoring team surveyed 20 stations, 10 of which were established as permanent monitoring stations and will be surveyed in subsequent years. There were many remarkable critters found in Piti Bay, the most exciting of which was a spotted eagle ray which swam right through one of our monitoring stations while we were surveying! There were also a variety of nudibranchs, more than a couple octopuses, and a few LARGE moray eels which had a knack for being seen only when I would be way too close for comfort! Needless to say, Piti kept the monitoring team busy for the months of July and August.

Do you see the shark?
Once Piti was finished, we moved on to Tumon Bay. In Tumon we started off with a day of exploratory dives on the forereef slope. During the dives we made general observations on the benthic habitat and fish communities and we were able to travel over 2.5km at depths of up to 50 feet to see a good portion of the reef area. These dives helped the monitoring coordinator choose the areas for the next set of random stations in Tumon. During these dives we saw a gray reef shark, a handful of turtles, and heard the dolphins as they were passing by! It was quite a wonderful day with the sun shining and the chance to see much of the sea life that call Tumon Bay home.

Since that day of exploratory dives in Tumon, the monitoring team has only been able to get back to Tumon Bay a handful of times. The weather has been less than favorable for coral reef monitoring with many high surf advisories, small craft advisories, and thunderstorm warnings. The weather kept us out of the water, but that offered us some office time to catch up on other projects.

K-5 Gifted Kids at Finegayan Elementary
With that extra time out of the water, I was able to devote some time to developing and giving presentations. A teacher friend of mine invited me to give a presentation to her gifted and talented students at her elementary school. In October I went up to Finegayan Elementary School and taught her group of K-5 gifted and talented students about corals, what they are, and why they’re important.

I explained how corals are actually animals, not plants or rocks, and how coral colonies are made up of thousands of tiny little individual animals (coral polyps) all growing together. They even learned a new word: zooxanthellae (the name for the algae that live inside coral tissue). I invited Marybelle Quinata, coordinator of the Guam Community Coral Reef Monitoring Program, to join me and we both were able to talk to the kids about how we do our surveys. We even got them to practice the surveys inside the classroom, helping them collect data along the way. It was an immensely rewarding experience as we got to see the kids learning and having fun at the same time. Thank you to Ms. Lorelei Nelson for
inviting us to her classroom!

Now that the weather has decided to die-down for a bit the monitoring team is getting back out to Tumon and collecting much-needed data. It will be interesting to compare this year’s data with the data collected two years ago. How are the corals and fish doing? Stay tuned to find out!

ted by

Roxanna Miller
11:27 pm

Monday, November 6, 2012
Location: Hagatna, Guam