Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Belize Photo Extravaganza

I didn't bring my camera to Belize, but my pals did, and they're much better photographers than me. Here's the story of the trip in photos...

This is all of us except Chelsea (the photographer) on the porch of the main lab building at Carrie Bow Caye. From left: Auburn PhD student Kathy Morrow, Smithsonian postdoc Kate Semone, Belizian cook and caretaker Martha, Me, U of F PhD student Mary, Smithsonian scientist Raphael Ritson-Williams, Station manager Dan.
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The "wet lab" at the station. The floor is sand so you never have to clean it. Nice!
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Me and Kate on the Carrie Bow Caye dock. The weird floating structure is Kate's algae fertilization experiment.
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It looks like Raph is seasick, but he's just ducking out of the way so Kathy can get a more awesome picture of me driving the boat.
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Raph and Kathy underwater. These two are both very experienced and graceful scuba divers. I think Raph has more than 1000 dives.
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Two of the most important coral species in the Caribbean are Acropora palmata (the elkhorn coral) and Acropora cervicornis (the staghorn coral). They add a lot of structure for fish to hide in, and their growth is really important for building up the reefs to keep up with erosion and sea level rise and stuff. They almost all died out a few years ago because of a disease, which may have been a secondary effect of other stresses like unusually high temperatures. You can still see some live Acroporas here and there, but it will take a long time for them to be what they once were. And if global warming continues, they might never recover!
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There were lots of signs of disease on other coral species, as well, like the black band disease killing these brain corals. The red fuzz is a cyanobacteria (blue green algae) associated with the disease front. Cyanobacteria and other types of algae often have toxic effects on corals.
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Kathy Morrow was testing the effect of some of the algal toxins on the corals. This is her experimental setup here, with algal extracts in agar plates strapped to the coral head. Cool, huh?
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Kathy took this picture of a school of Jacks.
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Raph took these close-up pictures from the reef. The first is the feeding apparatus of a "Christmas Tree Worm" peeking out from a brain coral. The second is a spotted moray eel. The third is an anemone, I think.
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That's it. :)

5 comments:

John said...

im jealous man you look like you have a really fun job.

Johnny Douglass said...

Doh! You said "Me and Kate…" I've been telling my friends you're a real smart boy. It's "Kate and I…" No wait. Is it "Kate and me"? Hmm, it's not a complete sentence; it's a title so is it like a subject or an object? Would you say "Me" or "I" if you were the only one on the dock? Maybe you're supposed to name people from left to right. Or, maybe as a gentleman you should name Kate first. Anyway great pictures and it looks like a great work assignment. Take you camera next time. Oh, and fill up your fridge with Coronas's we're coming down to see you next week.

Outdrsmn said...

Nice photos.

I'm still trying to figure out how you manage to get paid to jet off to some exotic destination and study the effects of sun tan lotion on smooth, firm and curvey surfaces.
That is what you went there for... right?

Javier said something to that effect last time we sailed and I just had to share.

Matt said...

Sweet pics, dude. I'm totally jealous of your warm weather excursion. I've been cold as hell up here running my pilot "grazer removal project." I had to quit early in the field the other day because I didn't bring neoprene gloves and after a while my fingers got too cold to tie cable ties! I won't make that mistake again. Tell me more about your research. Hope all is well back in FL.

K. Morrow said...

Hey James! Wow, I'm a little behind and until I saw the word 'drugs' on your facebook page, didn't even realize you had a blog! haha This is fantastic. It's cool to see all these pics from Belize again. :)