Thursday, 24 April 2008

ReefAlert 2008 training (part02)

So with 2 days of training under their belts, the SMUX divers still weren't scared off by us, and continued to come back for more punishment the evening classes we had last night and today. Last night sessions saw us completing ID training, with the fish survey. The "module" that took away all my marks when we had our RF training and test last year. moggi can be kinda a nag at times but he does go through the fish survey methodology in detail and shares all his little stories with us too! First on the importance of fish in the coral reef ecosystem, that fish and coral are inter-dependent on each other.
IMG_0127 fish survey
Then some tricky things about fish surveys. You need to be able to estimate 3D distances, then those little buggers keep moving (not to mention hide in cracks and crevices)... and to top it all off, you need to be able to estimate a numbers in one huge school as it swims across the survey "corridor"! (yesh, I know I'm supposed to be juan-fish, do like fish both in the sea and on my platter, but I don't really appreciate the finer points of actually doing a fish survey... *bleah*
IMG_0128 fish survey
And to further complicate matters, only certain fish are supposed to be counted. So in that short period of time that you detect a fish, you need to (1) ID it, (2) count the numbers, (3) judge if it falls within the survey area, (4) look into hidey-holes for more fishies, and (5) still follow the methodology of waiting for 3-5min every 5m, swimming/trudge the 5m taking at least 30 seconds... All underwater where your reactions tend to be a bit slower already... Talk about multi-tasking and challenging!
IMG_0129 fish survey
So of course, you would need to do more detailed readings. These are all great fish reference books to help. The Indo-Pacific Coral Reef Field Guide is more of a general introduction to all sorts of marine life. The Reef Fish Identification - Tropical Pacific is spendidly detailed, with the fish categorised according to where they are normally found (bottom dwelling, pelagic, etc.) and their overall typical bodyshape. My favorite of the lot! Reef Fish in a pocket is basically a super condensed version of the Fish ID book, and is actually waterproof so you can keep it in your pocket for quick reference when you go diving/snorkelling! Don't like the Marine Fishes book at the far end of the table as it only contains drawings of the fish (no photos), plus "groupers" are spelled as "gropers" (can't imagine those grumpy looking little fishies turning ecchi and molesting divers/snorkellers....). Just goes to show how common names can be troublesome when there's no standardization...
IMG_0124 fish books
Armed with the books, our insipid students were assigned groups to find out differences between snappers-emperors, groupers-sweetlips, rabbitfish-goatfish, butterflyfish-angelfish, and parrotfish-filefish...
IMG_0130 hard at work differentiating fish IMG_0133 hard at work
Of course, with a little help from moggi, our resident fish expert ^^
IMG_0131 Marco joins in to elaborate
Realising that the obvious traits (except for the usual exceptions) are easy to remember, though not always easy to spot, everybody's all smiles. ^_^
IMG_0141 reat books to look at IMG_0137 sweetlips
We're almost there, guys! So today, after a re-cap of the different surveys we need to carry out for RC, it's exam time! And we're glad to say that everybody passed and we're all set for the actual thing at Dayang!
IMG_0144 revision

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