Friday, June 29, 2012

 Just had a real nice sunset that I had to share
...and non HDR

Monday, June 25, 2012

Yesterday we interns took a break from the CEI campus and headed "down island" (actually north) to visit the rest of Eleuthera. We first stopped at a cave thirty minutes away from campus, formed by the weathering of limetsone to form a formation called Karst. The place looked exactly like the cave in the first scenes of  Raiders of the Lost Ark. Pictures are below (this will be a photo heavy post).
The coolest part was definitely the roots entering the holes in the ceiling of the cave and descending around 30 feet to the floor.

  We next headed over to Governor's Harbor, about another hour north. This once was the home of the Eleutheran Adventurers (protestant pilgrims sent to colonize under Cromwell), a pirate stronghold of the Bahamas, and later the de facto capital of the Bahamas for a couple of years. Nothing significant from these eras remain, but it is still a beautiful little town.

  After eating lunch in Governor's Harbor we visited an old Naval Base a couple minutes north of Governor's Harbor that was abandoned when the Bahamas gained independence form the UK in 1973. One building had been (was still?) used as a Voodoo shrine after the abandonment, evidenced by the paintings on the wall and the offerings of empty alcohol bottles. In short, a very creepy place that I would not like to visit at night.

The Caribbean
Lastly we visited a formation called Glass Window to the north of Eleuthera. At this point the island narrows down to only a couple hundred feet wide, and at one point a bridge has to span two points because it gets so narrow. The Atlantic to the east is a dark cobalt and crashes into a series of impressive cliffs sculpted by the water, and from the cliffs the land slopes rapidly in a few hundred feet so that it falls slowly into the tepid turquoise Caribbean. The rock here, also limestone, has been weathered into what is called locally "death rock," which I can only describe as razor-sharp rock that has been weathered into a swiss cheese design.
The Meeting of the Atlantic and The Caribbean

Add a little fog and you have a passable backdrop for Frierdrich's Wanderer above the Sea of Fog

Glass Window Bridge

An example of Death Rock

Another Death Rock example

Lastly, I managed to take some High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos of the various places I visited.

Glass Window

Glass Window Bridge

Voodoo shrine in naval base

Friday, June 22, 2012

For the past two days I have been working on the lionfish team instead of the aquaculture team on field data collection. Yesterday was pretty nasty, windy and rainy to make a windchill of around 65, and I forgot to wear my wetsuit to it turned out to be pretty miserable, but today was sunnier and warmer.

   The dives take place on patch reef ecosystems, little islands of coral in a sea of sand and turtle grass. The bay we were in, Rock Sound, had a max depth of 11 feet, so dives were very shallow, but I was able to stay down longer and use less air because of the lessened water pressure. The area surrounding the patch reefs are prairies of sand and turtle grass browsed upon by herds of foot long sea cucumbers, and the reefs themselves vary in size, but almost all are the size of a large room. After having dove at the Cobia cage, which is near a 1,000 foot wall, I can definitely see a difference in fish and coral cover, the patch reefs having more juvenile fishes while the area around the cage has lots of big fish.

   We spend about 30 min at each site, with the goal of surveying 6 sites a day. Transect lines are set up crisscrossing the reef, and some of the other interns follow these lines and try to count and identify all the fish species they see in an attempt to quantify the effect lionfish are having on fish biodiversity. My job was to find lionfish hiding in the nooks and crannies in the reef and measure their length while trying to not get stung. Over the 6 dives I counted lionfish, I counted 58 lionfish, but there were more than 100 on these reefs when one factors in dives I did not participate in. Considering their veracity and high place in the food change, the reefs are ravaged of small fish populations, especially gobies and juvenile wrasses which were nonexistent at several of the reefs. Overall the reefs are changing dramatically in their fish biodiversity and biomass as we compare fish population data pre lionfish invasion.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Finally, all the Cobia are in their open water cage! I think we have about 1100 right now. Spent the afternoon doing the whole procedure one last time to get this last batch of about 300 cobia into the cage, went way smoother than our main move on saturday. Now all we have to do is dive the cage occasionally to feed them and do some cage maintenance.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Today was pretty awesome - Sunday is our day off so us interns basically fooled around all day. Me and another aquaculture intern, Tyler, headed off to the offshore cobia cage after breakfast to feed the fish. Although I wasn't able to take pictures, this video above from a few years ago should give you an idea of what I saw. Max depth at 92 feet, saw a couple reef sharks and a friendly black grouper which followed us around the cage while we fed the cobia.

Since we had the rest of the day off, we got on our bikes and went to a series of small cliffs on the west side of Cape Eleuthera to swim/snorkel.
High Rock, Eleuthera



 Here are some pictures of part of the Cape Eleuthera Institute I took, more on the way.

from left to right, intern dorms, visiting scientist house, Island School campus

inside of dorm

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I haven't had time to update since I just got internet yesterday, so I'm going to skip over a lot.

Flight into Rock Sound, Eleuthera was very cool, the sandbanks in the sound making some really cool shapes.

Dorms for the interns here are small and are ovens which absorb heat from the constant sun. Since the research lab I am working at, CEI, is making attempts to be self sufficient from other power sources, there are only poorly working fans to offer any help.

last night all of the interns and the teachers affiliated with CEI's environmental education branch, the Island School, went to a party a couple miles south of the lab. All interns are given bikes, so we rode down to a delicious BBQ grill session and rode back at 11 on the main highway in eleuthera - two cars passed us. Heat lightning was blinking on overhead coupled with the bright night sky to make an awesome 30 minute ride back to campus.

Today we transferred some of our Cobia from our wet lab to our offshore aquaculture net. We have around 1500 individuals to transfer, going from tank to tubs on a truck to more tubs on a boat before we can release them in the water via a long tube. We had to transfer each fish one at a time from the boat to the cage, which took forever and was painful as Cobia have sharp spines on their back which tore up my palms as I transferred them. Hopefully we will finish next week.

Hopefully will get some pictures of the island and the lab up sometime early next week.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

FISH OF THE DAY - I will try to post pictures of a species of Caribbean reef fish every day so you can see the kind of fish diversity I will be seeing.

Today will be the Sharknose Goby (Elacatinus evelynae), of which the aquaculture lab at CEI breeds. We breed them, I'm told, to clean parasites off of the small Cobia, but I have never seen or known of this behavior before. I've seen them mostly on brain and plate corals, where a pair will stake out a corner of coral as their own territory. They are really fast, and look like little jewels darting about on the surface of the coral. See more pictures at

Picture is not mine, all rights to Florent's reef Guide