August 6, 2011
At last we have reached the Inaguas! After a few days underway, the Golden Shadow is laying at anchor off the western shore of Great Inagua. Great Inagua is located between 20.9° to 21.4° North latitude and 73° to 73.9° West longitude. As this blog is being written, divers are counting and identifying fish, corals and invertebrates, measuring coral coverage, searching for corals affected by disease, and mapping the underwater habitats of the area using high tech electronics.
The day began with checkout dives for the divers in need of a refresher and a brief soak in the cerulean waters. Once everyone had all the details of dive gear and scientific sampling equipment sorted out, the real work began. A small scouting team left the Golden Shadow in one of the rigid-hull inflatable boats (known as a RHIB, or a tender) to check out a reef they had spotted in aerial photographs on the over-flight reconnaissance mission several weeks ago (read more about that airborne expedition in a previously posted blog by clicking here). The spot proved to be perfect for scientific study and was agreed upon as the first dive sight of the expedition.
Data sheets, survey lines, quadrats and meter sticks are just some of the equipment used to survey the coral reefs during the expedition
After lunch, the first group of scientific divers departed for the dive site and began sampling and surveying. Throughout the afternoon’s dives, the research divers were pleased to find healthy corals, representative fish populations and few signs of overfishing or damage from boat anchors. Because the Inaguas are relatively isolated and support a small population of people (less than 2000 individuals), the man-made impacts and pressures that are all too common on many reefs are not immediately apparent here.
Research divers head out on the first fish, coral, and coral disease surveys of the Inaguas Global Reef Expedition
Read the rest of The Reef at First Sight »