Monday, October 14, 2013

Fiji 2013 | A purely recreational diver with experts

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 about the joint aquarium Fiji expedition comes from the Aquarium supporter Tally Lauter.

Great coral worm snail on the Cakaumomo Atoll
I am on my second trip to Fiji aboard the NAI’A, a 124’ foot live aboard dive boat. I realize how much I do not know about the ocean, traveling with these talented fellow divers. Most everyone has many more dives than I have, BUT, today I did my century dive (100 logged dives)!

After each dive everyone gathers in the salon to exchange information about what they saw and what they photographed. The group then tries to identify what fish they have seen and what fish they can add to their life list. One of the travelers, Dr. Webster from the Monterey Aquarium, gives daily lectures on marine life.

Look closely and you can see the mucus net cast by the snail

Today after his lecture the reef we then went at Cakaumomo Atoll was alive with many of the animals that he introduced in his talk. One that stands out is a great coral worm snail (Dendropoma maxima). It was fascinating to see it in action feeding with its mucus net. I have learned so much and discovered creatures that are so fascinating to see. Everyone is excited to see the large creatures such as hammerhead sharks, turtles or manta rays.

The guyot of Cakaumomo reef.  Cakaumomo translates as Cakau  [reef] (pronounced: Thacco), and momo [king]

But there is a whole world of small creatures that I have been introduced to that are equally as fascinating. The pigmy sea horse that is less than one half inch long caused as much a thrill as did the large animals listed above. I am now thinking I want to come back when the group returns in about 18 months.

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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