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Bermuda Field Course 2011 :: Daily Report

Day 06 | Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 6 was met with much rejoicing as the fabled coral field trip had arrived! As the sun crept over the horizon, the UNCW and Southampton students both gathered for a morning lecture on Bermuda’s corals and their patterns of distribution. Following a rousing section on coral species zonation and regional abundance, everyone donned their dive gear and jumped on the R/V Henry Stommel research boat to head to the famed North Rock area of Bermuda’s outer reefs. A tiny collection of rocks far out on the Bermuda platform edge, North Rock provided an unparalleled chance to observe one of the Western Atlantic’s last remaining healthy reefs. Sea fans, brain corals and sea rods - among other species - covered the seascape. Wrasses, parrotfish, and surgeonfish swam among the fleshy coral outcrops separated only by a few meters of sand bottom.

After over an hour of snorkeling, and the instructors wrestling the students from the crystal clear blue water - the R/V Henry Stommel cruised into the inner lagoon of the Bermuda seamount platform to examine a patch reef system. Here, an increased diversity of corals was scattered among old coral rubble piles. A variety of ledges and overhangs helped students to spot unique critters such as the spiny lobster, trunkfish, queen angelfish and porcupinefish. Unspotted, however, one key apex predator silently drifted in the waves to ambush an unsuspecting UNCW student. Valiantly, the student wrestled in a battle of life or death against impossible odds; by the very skin of her very own teeth, the student ripped off the Portuguese Man-O’-War and powered through the fiery pain piercing her hand.

In late afternoon, a very pleased but slightly weathered group returned the BIOS research station for a satisfying dinner of pasta and some relaxing data analysis and statistics. Though the evening brought respite, it also contained dutifully report compiling. And so, as yet another day ends, both UNCW and Southampton students appreciate the unique Bermudian marine ecosystems more and more…

- Robbie and Zach

Sampling teams on the reef near North Rock
Sampling teams on the reef near North Rock

Getting geared up on the R/V Henry Stommel
Getting geared up on the R/V Henry Stommel

Ashley and Rachel entering the water from the R/V Henry Stommel
Ashley and Rachel entering the water from the R/V Henry Stommel

Zach ready to jump in!
Zach ready to jump in!

Coral reef and wrasse fishes at North Rock
Coral reef and wrasse fishes at North Rock

Examples of dominant corals on Bermuda’s reefs
Examples of dominant corals on Bermuda’s reefs

Ashley and Rachel in the water at North Rock
Ashley and Rachel in the water at North Rock

Dr. Alison Taylor on the reef at North Rock

Surveying the corals at North Rock
Surveying the corals at North Rock

Reboarding the R/V Henry Stommel after coral sampling
Reboarding the R/V Henry Stommel after coral sampling

 

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