|Perk1. Picking your own cocunut|
July 21. If you think working in paradise is pretty relaxing, I must unfortunately tell you that you are wrong. Though I must admit that it has its perks. Nothing really worked according to plan. It never does when you do field work but this trip has been quite exceptional. Admittedly, I had set up some fairly ambitious goals of what we could expect to get accomplished for the field expedition part 1 of our coral reef habitat-mapping project in Puerto Rico, and I did not expect to meet them all. But I was not quite prepared for what was to come. I should have known something was up when the trip started off by missing my SouthWest flight to PR due to a 1.5 hour line to the check in and an inferno of angry people.
|Perk2. Free-diving on a daily basis to document coral reefs|
|One of my favourits, a juvenile Yellowtail Damselfish hiding in the Elkhorn Coral|
|A juvenile French Angel fish and a school of Blackbar Soldier fish hiding under a small wreck|
|A healthy patch of the endangered staghorn coral|
Basically we set out to film and document a large number of seafloor locations in our mapping area between Culebra and Puerto Rico. We use the detailed onsite information to verify what we can see on the high resolution satellite imagery I have been working on the last few months. By combining the onsite information and the remote sensing data we can create an updated and detailed marine habitat map of the region. The maps will hopefully be useful to make smarter decisions how to protect and use the marine recourses available in the area further down the road.
|We mapped the deep area during the Nancy Foster missions, the challenge now is to map the 750 km2 shallow area (gray on map) which includes the new NE marine reserve and the surrounding seascape.|
|Local stakeholder meeting discussing proposals how to locally reduce land based sources of pollutions to the marine environment, such as sediment runoff from roads and raw sewage water released into the bay by restaurants and houses.|
|Coral farming outside Tamarindo beach, Researcher Edwin Delgado and his group from University of Puerto Rico have been working for years to grow and transplant healthy Staghorn corals to the reef around Culebra.|
|This years edition of (bad ass) scientists equipped with GoPro Hero 3 and (freeking) laser beams!|
|Work suspended as a water spout (tornado on the water) started forming not far away.|
|Me and Will at the DNER boat with our local partners in full uniform (yes, they had guns and handcuffs)|
When they actually have a boat that is working and have money for gas, which apparently was quite seldom, they patrol to enforce the no take marine reserve and other areas around the island. The days when our work with DNER came to an halt for any of many reasons we got help from friendly locals who took pity to all the troubles we went through. Among others Percy from Kayaking Puerto Rico lend us kayaks and let us use his brand new dingy for a full day for free. Pretty awesome. The Culebra locals sure makes an effort to make strangers feel welcomed and after a day or two you easily get the illusion that you are a local yourself (no, you are still a tourist).
|Perk 3. Getting invited for lunch on Bills Catamaran in Culebrita bay. This fine day we had borrowed a dingy from Kayaking Puerto Rico to keep working through the weekend.|
|Backup plan C, when Drop Camera fails switch over to free-diving. |
Do 30 sites in a day and the novelty starts wearing off... Will is getting his daily dose of workout.
|Backup plan D. Free-diving from Kayak.|
|It might be better to have a kayak that does not have holes in the hull. But this works too.|
|Busy classifying yet another habitat ground validation point|
|THE way to get around. For Science!|
|Perk 4. Getting cosy with a curious green turtle (he took a bite of the camera)|
|June-July is nesting season for the huge and critically endangered Leaderback Turtle|
|Is it a..?? Just me, I had to try how hard it is to get up on the beach turtle style. Did not get very far.|
|We met a local turtle activist who was counting hatched eggs and unsuccessful hatchlings from last nights newborn batch of leaderbacks (the poor cute little guy in the picture did not get very far).|
|Joining Master student Christian to check on a turtle nest soon about to hatch|
|Grandma working under the mid day sun.|
|Perk 5. Body surfing on a remote wild beach|
|Perk 6. A cold Medalla on the beach|
|Another sunset on the water|
|A walking stick! I used to have these as a kid, until mum started to find them all over the house.|
|Leaving the Island for another week of work in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. Wonder what could go wrong this time?|
One week left working from the Fajardo (Puerto Rico) side, surely things will run smother there!