Tuesday, 22 April 2008

ReefAlert 2008 training (part01)

This is certainly a busy busy period~~ First with ADEX, EARTH DAY(!!!), coral spawning, various intertidal activities, and I find myself involved in training up and bringing a group SMUX divers for their annual ReefAlert at Dayang. Think this is their 3rd year heading to Malaysia to do ReefCheck surveys, and Gill Divers has been organising these annual ReefAlerts and getting BWV ReefFriends involved as well. They had their pool session on sunday, and the RC theory started last night and would continue on until Thursday before we leave for Dayang on Friday night.

papajeff kicked off the series of theory sessions with a quick introduction to our local waters and reefs, as well as an overview to the different tasks buddy pairs would be assigned.
IMG_0110 troubleshooting
Followed by a quick demo on tape laying, or as much as can be demonstrated on land, with the usual 'do's and 'don't's like keeping the tape straight, don't let it twist about etc.
IMG_0104 overview on tapes and lines
Then it was time for the students to try it out for themselves, with the classroom furnishings acting as pseudo-corals and various reef structures. Seems rather easy on land, doesn't it? Wiat til you try it out while diving, and at an actual reef where it's more complex environment than what chairs and tables can provide!
IMG_0107 hands-on with the tapes IMG_0108 hands-on with the tapes
And for some reason, moggi's amused but all that's happening, even while holding on to the clothes pegs that we use to secure the transect tapes to the reef...
IMG_0112 Marco
Simple straightforward introduction for the first session. Tonight's session was a little more mugger-ish with the list of mobile invertebrates (aka backbone-less critters) and benthic codes to remember and identify. While waiting for the latecomers to make their way in, moggi starts with a quick re-cap with more tips on tape laying. It really is quite simple once you get the hang of it but (to use moggi's words) sometimes divers leave their common sense behind on the boat....
IMG_0114 Marco starts by pre-empting possible tricky spots
Things happen, such as shallow and deep transects crossing despite the fact that they are supposed to be approximately parallel and laid at a constant depth. And also how we need to deal with the not-so-classroom-perfect real world where the reef is non-linear and/or the reef profile is extremely bumpy with many crevices and boulder corals. Good for the fish and other critters but can be a pain for us humans trying to make sense of the larger scheme in life. And since tape laying is basically the backbone for any kind of reef survey, you need to get it right. (or end up delaying everything since the tape needs to be relaid....)
IMG_0115 more well intended nagging
E1 continues by introducing the 7 mobile invertebrate groups that the folks at RC HQ are interested in, namely, sea urchins (Diadema, collector, pencil), crown of thorns (Acanthaster planci), giant clams (Tridacna sp.), tritons, sea cucumbers (prickly red, greenfish, sandfish, cowfish), banded coral shrimps, and lobsters.
Then I had a go at going through the biotic (hard coral, soft coral, nutrient indicator algae, sponges, others) and abiotic (rock, rubble, sand, silt/clay) codes for the benthic portion of the survey.
IMG_0117 21 SMUX students at our mercy ^^
Quick sum up by moggi and we're done for the day night. Hope we didn't scare off too many of them since we still have to go through the fish groups tomorrow, and have they take the "final exam" on Thursday!
IMG_0121 more tips from the pro

And on a totally irrelevant note, I get to collect my regulator set tomorrow. Can't wait!!! ^_^

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