- Created: Tuesday, 09 October 2018 22:43
Isopods hitch-hiking on humphead bannerfish. © Sally Vogel
Daily log – Day 10 DAMAI II
Date: 9 October 2018
Boat location(s): Batanta
Dive sites: Algae Patch 2, Algae Patch 2 / Ernie’s Corner, Algae Patch 2 (Night dive)
Weather conditions: Sunny and smooth waves (0.1 – 0.5 m high)
“Happy hunting!” That was it from Irene, our cruise director, for our first dive briefing of the day. It was muck diving day! The visibility (about 15 m) was great and it probably made finding critters slightly easier. The team, with the help of dive guides and their satay sticks to mark out cryptic animals, managed to find many nudibranchs, sea slugs and even anemone fish eggs among the black sand!
Divers descending near area an abandoned burlap sack. © Emry Oxford
The team returned to the same dive site in the afternoon while the researchers checked out the reef next to it. Irene said the reef has not been named so the science team named it Ernie’s Corner after our photography legend Ernie! The reefscape was a surprise! We definitely did not expect such a vibrant fish and coral communities at a muck diving site. However, there were signs that we were nearing civilisation. Fishing lines, abandoned burlap bags, food wrappers were in the waters – around corals and in between reef crevices. Despite the presence of marine debris, Sam and Renato chose a nice spot and did their respective fish and coral surveys along with Emry and Sabrina. After sightings of crown-of-thorn sea stars, Sam spotted a group of coral-eating violet coral shell (Coralliophia violacea) on a Porites coral! While snorkelling, Sally and Ernie found some parasites getting a free ride (or lunch!) from the fishes. Sarah-Jo and Brett did another plastic trawl during surface interval and we are all expecting to see more debris in the analysis!
Violet coral shell, Coralliophia violacea, munching on Porites coral. © Sam Shu Qin
We then ended the day with a night dive in search for wonderpus and blue ring octopus. No octopuses to be found but there were strong currents, spanish dancers, and a frogfish!
An Acropora coral with white band disease. © Ernest Brooks
Soft coral, hard coral or Phyllodesmium? © Deon Viljoen
Did someone lose his shoe? © Emry Oxford