The climbfish have now evolved to cover my life in the US - including very exiting life in downtown Baltimore (aka the wire) and ocean research expeditions with NOAA. I don't promise frequent updates but I will try and cover the most and least exiting times here. Enjoy!
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Saved by the Hat

Noon Fashion
Yet again I have avoided a major Hurricane by escaping to its origin in the Caribbean. While poor Anna is getting hit by the storm at this very moment back in Baltimore (and getting two well needed extra days off school) I am sipping on a cold beverage and looking back at yet another sunny day on the clear waters outside St. Thomas in US Virgin Islands. Some would call it unfair. I call it work.
Local fruit Juice  
Shit happens... Just not to us

Now before you stop reading because you already got sick of me telling you how great it is to work down here mapping coral reefs (and it is), I might make you a little happier by confessing that out of the 7 days I have been down here at least 3 of them have been long 10 hour days with me quite seasick (yesterday I fed the local fish population to much enjoyment of my colleague Bryan and our boat captain Kevin). Also, there is not much shade to be found at noon and the sun here turns you into a lobster in no time if you are not careful. Fortunately Kevin made my week by getting me a beautiful straw hat!

A new kind of commute
Looks like the end of that rainbow is our boat...
So what are we doing down here you might ponder? NOAA and other organizations has numerous projects that works towards restoring the health of the US Caribbean marine environment (although it is a daunting task). The coral reefs here have taken a very big hit and are only a shadow of what they once where. Climate change is one of the factors, but most likely development on land (which causing erosion and pollution) and overfishing have had the biggest toll on the reefs. On the bright side there are some coral comming back in areas where the environment have improved again, so its not all doom and gloom.
New recruitment of the endangered Elkhorn coral brings hope for the future.
It looks kind of lonely though...
Me and Bryan are currently collecting ground validation data (under water video) of shallow water habitats that we will later use to interpret areal imagery (ortophoto, laser survey and satellite imagery) to create detailed habitat maps of prioritized areas around St. John and St. Thomas. The maps can then be used as baseline data by local managers and partners to initiate further studies, plan restoration efforts and to better manage sensitive areas (hallelujah!). For us it means that we are zooming around in a boat to over 400 sites with a camera that we lower to the seafloor on pre selected sites, and when it is to shallow for the boat to navigate there is no choice but to hop in the water and go for a swim. Somebody HAS to do it.
Getting the camera ready
Habitat mapping in action - Seagrass on sandy bottom
Bryan collecting habitat info on a shallow reef
Just doing his job
Captain Kevin
No Tape No Science
My new cubicle

Swedish Fish?
One of the more colorful site we encountered, captured with my goPro
Camera while testing out high resolution photos for mapping.
Today we had two people from the The Nature Conservancy on board our boat so they could learn more about our work down here. It was pretty great as we got some extra hands to help us out and we also got to see some of their coral restoration sites.
Eric and Anne Marie from the Nature Conservancy helping us out for a day
Young Staghorn Coral in a TNC restoration area,  attached to
the rock with the help of epoxy and man power
Relatively pristine habitat with the endangered staghorn coral that used
to make up much of the reefs down here
Meeting with the Park Service to inform the local managers of our results
and get valuable feedback on how to make our products more useful to them
Sneaking around St. Thomas in search for GeoFix points (used to
control the areal imagery) in our not so camouflaged automobile...
The hat saved my day. Once again.
Do I want the water to be warmer or colder? Hmm.. I might just go with what we have
Who said you could not eat science?

Tomorrow awaits yet another day at work, this time we are taking on the mangrove lagoon by kayak. It might as well be me.

1 comment:

  1. Skönt att du sitter säkert i en båt på det blå och "jobbar". <3 Men ack, vem tar hand om din arma hustru?!