Blog for 2010-06-17

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After waking up, we discussed our various night experiences (Chris' crazy 30 minute long dreams, the annoying light that tricked Zach into thinking it was day, the flotation device that looks suspiciously like a killer in the dead of the night, and the wickedly loud surf at 4 am). We had a light breakfast and as I was eating I couldn't help but fondly remember Ebulina, our cook from Lambir Hills, who was a great cook and definitely spoiled us. As we began the first day at beautiful Gaya Island, I couldn't help but think how lucky we were to be here!

Coral Reef Ecological studies

Lecturer: Beverly Goh Our first lecturer was Dr. Beverly Goh, a professor from the Nayang Institute for Education,continued her discussion of the nature of coral reefs, specifically reef building corals. We learned about the zonation of where corals grow because there are abiotic and biotic factors that determine which environment is favorable for corals. Abiotic factors include tidal cycles and the availability of energy and some biotic factors are competition, predation/grazing, larval settlement. Interestingly, coral can have warfare because they are competing with other coral species for limited resources so they send out killer tentacles to kill their competitor (sweet!). In addition, we learned faster growing coral tend to be better competitors and the removal of top predators (key stone species) reduces species diversity. We also learned that the larvae need hard substrate to settle on which explains the difference between the two sides of the jetty where one side is sandy and has no coral and the other has more rock and rubble thus coral.

Sampling coral community

There were four teams that went out into the reef and used transects (area cover per unit length) that were laid parallel to the reef to measure hard coral diversity. Recorded growth forms included: massive, branching, foliate, mushroom, submassive, and encrusting. Each team had three sections: back reef, reef flat, and reef crest. Some teams found the task easier than others but overall most found the experience enjoyable.


After lunch, SURPRISE! Henry gave us tee shirts!! They are the latest in students conquering Borneo's diversity fashion. Then we went back into the the water to look for more coral and were able to identify them to species. Porites and Pocillopora were easily identifiable but Euphyllia was harder to find although some claimed to have spotted some specimens.

After the exercise, we broke up into various groups: some played soccer (football to the rest of the world) while others swam some more. The football game included many of our male students and Frank but the women were suspiciously absent (hmm). At 4:30 pm, some of the students went to snorkle at the mangroves hoping to see fish nurseries and (gasp!) sea dragons! Unfortunately, it was raining too hard and we didn't see anything but we managed to turn this small disappointment into a fun and crazy boat ride! Plenty of yelling and laughing made the excursion into a ride that Disney can never hope to recreate. After, Anu showed Tam and I how to wear scarfs like an Indian bride (Thasun also modeled).
Work it, Thasun!

More sea time in which Frank revealed that he's a vampire (but he eats garlic!) and Sachi started teaching Tam to float. We had dinner but I was really excited about the Milo and soymilk which had arrived (finally, I can easy the addiction!). We had a lecture on seed dispersal by Dr. Shawn Lum which discussed abiotic dispersal (wind, water) and biotic (animal). We ended the day with Malay instruction by our Bahasa speakers, Doni and Nik, which included how to say “how much?” and “too expensive;”all very necessary for effective shopping. “Selemat malam!”