Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Belize: Things that make you go, "Hmmmmm"

Belize Expedition 2012

Things are in full swing here. We're working multiple dives per day and measuring sites all over the reef. These are all sites we've visited multiple times before, and we're measuring things we've been measuring for a while. Far from hum drum, there are ALWAYS new things to see on a coral reef, if you look closely! One of my favorite things about science is that new mysteries abound; nature's curiosities are endless.

Carrie Bow Cay, Belize

On a remote island where bandwidth is limited and the internet is intermittent at best, we don't have the luxury of doing a full literature search for every question that comes up. Nor do we have the time, amidst diving and experiment prep! But though the answers are (at least for the moment) elusive, the questions keep coming fast and furious. Here are today's mysteries - perhaps you can help us to solve them. Given the resources here on the island, we really have no idea.

First, an Agaricia coral colony with a pie-wedge shaped color anomaly. A different coral symbiont? Mild bleaching? A non-fatal disease? And even if one of those is the case, why such an odd pattern? Note: There was nothing shading or abrading this colony.

Second, a colony of Montastrea cavernosa with some polyp tissue removed down to the skeleton -- but with the skeleton intact. Though one of my main research themes is the investigation of corallivory (the consumption of live corals), I have yet to find a plausible explanation for this grazing pattern. Many common corallivorous fishes would have removed the skeleton as well as the tissue, or would have been unable to remove the fleshy tissue from these large polyps so completely. Most invertebrates don't feed in such a scattered pattern, and I couldn't find any corallivorous invertebrates in the vicinity. Could it be a disease? No disease that I'm familiar with leaves polyp tissue so completely and cleanly removed, in such a scattered fashion. But... I am not an expert on coral diseases. Note: There was nothing shading or abrading this colony, either. :-)

As science and discovery continue on-island, we'll keep looking for new mysteries to ponder and share. We welcome your help in our endeavors!

Science, ho! And, hmmmm.....

Randi, Pete, Amanda, Danny, Jeff, and Zoe

1 comment:

  1. Where would we be without our questions!?
    "The more we learn about the sea, the more we realize we have yet to learn."
    Thanks for asking all your questions.