Day 4 5/8/14
Very windy night. Had to resort to using a blanket! Managed to claw my way out of bed for a run again this morning. Feeling a bit sore, but feeling good about exercising again.
Went to my sites at North Station Beach and Osprey today. Nth Station had taken quite a beating. There were lots of upturned corals and dead colonies covered in algal growth. Couldn’t find any of my tags at Nth Station, but found 4 of them at Osprey. Two of my tagged colonies still had their occupants! Although one had lost its partner :(. We recaptured the tagged fish to measure them. It was not easy as the sites were extremely shallow and there was quite a bit of wave action on the surface. My tank was actually out of the water most of the time, but I resorted to SCUBA in order to keep my head underwater. Poor Grant busted his buoyancy compensator so had to spend over three hours in the water on snorkel, mostly in the one place to assist me. The help was very much appreciated. I’m absolutely stoked to have found a couple of tagged fish.
It was Anne Hogett’s (one of the station directors) birthday today. We had a lovely pot luck dinner down at the beach house. Anne’s mother cooked up a lovely chocolate cake for the occasion. Our contribution was a sausage and bean hot pot with mashed potato and kumara. All of the dishes were beautiful. I think my favourite must have been the lentils served with charred coriander seeds. Not bad for an island cook up!
Day 5 6/8/14
Didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. The wind was howling and we had a few bouts of rain lashing the house. Got moving early today though. The wind was really strong today which made it pretty rough going on the boat. Grant and I got out to my sites at Ghost beach. Unfortunately Grant busted his 2nd buoyancy compensator of the trip and had to spend the whole time snorkelling on the surface again. Evidently Grant loves snorkelling so much that he sabotages his dive gear in order to stay on the surface! Thankfully my sites were only chest deep again so the dive gear was really only for stability and to keep my head underwater. We found a couple of tagged corals with G. citrinus in them. I did see one of my tagged citrinus’. We also found a coral (tagless) with two of my tattooed brochus (what’s the plural of brochus? brochuses? brochi?…..). Sadly one of these didn’t survive its second clove oil encounter 😦
I hate it when I kill a fish. Especially since this one survived the first round of sampling and a cyclone! Unfortunately, the brochusi do tend to be more susceptible to the clove oil than other species. I also lost an okinawae to a hungry spotted morey eel, who was much faster than my net. Argh!
We also found a couple of big G. histrios. I thought I’d killed one of them too but thankfully it was only playing dead and was alive and kicking by the time we got them up on the boat. On the boat we measured, photographed and took fin clips from all the fish we’d captured (except the previously tagged ones, since we clipped them last time).
If anyone is concerned about us cutting off bits of fin, we only take about 1/6th of the caudal (tail) fin while the fish is sedated. We quite often see fish with much more than this missing from their fins from fighting with conspecifics (same species) or predator interactions. They readily regrow damaged fins. It would be similar to taking a nail clipping from a human. We use the fin clips for genetic analyses.
In the afternoon, I helped out another researcher, Gabby, to collect some yellow damsel fish and take some water samples. We went out to Big Vickey’s reef. It was blowing a gale out there and the swell was quite rough. We had to collect the water samples next to some pH loggers that had previously been placed there. Gabby had marked them with a big pink buoy the previous day, but it had dislodged and was long gone. We pulled up close to where Gabby thought the equipment was, ready to jump in and search for it. We threw the anchor in away from the reef and allowed the boat to drift back to the reef edge before tying off. Gabby jumped in and immediately found the loggers, right below the boat! We got our dive gear on and descended. It was a relief to be out of the surface chop. Gabby quickly caught her damsels and took the water samples and we were back on shore in under an hour.