Blog for 2009-06-23

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The view from Le's and my tent as we woke up this morning

Gaya Island

Today was amazing. Utterly fantastic. :D We woke up today to the sounds of waves lapping at the beach.

We had a morning lecture from Prof. Ridzwan on coral reef biology where we learned a lot about different types of coral and life histories. Cam talked to us about different things to look out for while snorkeling: we had to identify angiosperms (sea grass), macroalgae, corals, jellyfish/anemones, sponges, echinoderms (sea stars), molluscs (gastropods, bivalves, nudibranchs), and crustaceans. We buddied up, got in the water for our first purposeful snorkel, and it was really great. We swam around. And checked off organisms on our sweet underwater notepads as we encountered them.

After lunch, we had a lecture from Min Sheng on coral reef sampling methods and coral taxonomy. We learned about some of the most common types and how to identify them in the water. Despite some slight technical issues, it was a really helpful lecture and made us all really appreciate the diversity on the reef. Before this, I looked at everything and it looked basically the same (pretty, but indistinguishable); the next time I got in the water, however, I looked at corals and thought, "Oooh, fungiidae!"

We traveled to a different reef for our next field section. It was even better than the reef right outside our campsite. Notable discoveries were: a black and white sea snake, a stingray, some sea turtles, a decorated crab wearing a sponge, parrot fish, angel fish, a coke bottle with corals growing on it, and so many Nemos with anemones it was overwhelming. There were so many kinds of coral, mainly branching types. After our snorkel, a bunch of us worked out on the beach. Intense.

Finally, MS showed us a slide show of some beautiful invertebrates that he or his diving buddies had seen while in the water. They were pretty amazing, especially the crustaceans with ridiculous camouflage.

Lights out at 10.