Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fiji 2013 | A Canadian in Fiji

For the past several years, the New England Aquarium has participated in a joint expedition to Fiji, along with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and other conservation-minded groups and individuals. The last expedition took place in Spring 2012

Today's post and coral pictures about the tropical  joint aquarium Fiji expedition comes from the Aquarium member Don Campbell.

Don Campbell: A Canadian in Fiji | Photo: K. Ellenbogen

This is my first time visiting Fiji, and my first time traveling in the southern hemisphere.  My prior tropical diving experience has been in the Atlantic.  The differences between the experiences are very

The variety of fish species found here is staggering.  Where a particular fish genus (such as Chaetodon sp.) in the Atlantic may have four species, the same genus in Fiji has 23. This diversity arises because the Pacific is a much older and larger ocean, allowing more time for species diversification, more space for expansion and a wider range of habitats. What this means in a practical sense for me is that while I can identify many of the species found in the tropical western Atlantic (especially those in the Aquarium's Giant Ocean Tank), here in Fiji I can usually recognize a member of the butterflyfish family based on its shape, but the specific identification escapes me.

A table-like coral soaking up the sunlight | Photo: D. Campbell

Another difference that I've noticed here is the abundance and variety of coral. Many of the sites that we dive here are crammed with corals over all available surfaces. Some corals (Acropora sp.) will spread out like coffee tables to gain precious surface area for collecting sunlight. These finely branched structures are, in turn, packed with small fish using the coral as a safe place to hide from predators and

Coral recruits | Photo: D. Campbell

On some dives here we can see the effects of previous storms through the rubble-strewn slopes of an impacted reef. These same reefs also show new growth on the cleared canvas. Atlantic coral reefs also face the challenge of increased shipping and other human contact. Unfortunately, the effects of climate change mean that there will be increased pressure on reefs that will make this recovery more

Stay tuned to this blog to follow the team as they dive to collect data on the health of the coral reefspick up trash where they find it, check in with the villagers to see how some conservation initiatives are faring and further develop connections with the people that live on these beautiful Pacific islands. 

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