Day 5 - Daily Log - Gaia Love

 

A school of damselfish. Photo by Emily Chan.

Daily Log - Day 5 - Gaia Love

Date: October 4, 2018

Boat location: Misool, Raja Ampat

Dive site: Tank Rock (A11), Boo West (12), Yelliet Kecil (A13)

Weather conditions: Windy and cloudy

Highlights:

Gaia Love now reporting from Raja Ampat! The weather during breakfast was gloomy, with dark skies and strong winds. But the weather couldn't rain on our parade - everyone on board was excited to be in Raja Ampat and even more excited to be in the water.

Manta in the Blue. Photo by Jessie Xue.

Our first dive was in Tank Rock at 8:30AM. Within one minute of getting in the water, a queen manta welcomed one dive group to Raja Ampat. The whole dive was a never-ending meadow of soft and hard corals and schools of fish in different sizes. We also spotted a couple of reef sharks, a pair of eagle rays, and a pair of mantas at the end of the dive. It was a haven for photographers using their wide angle lenses.

On the second dive in Boo West, there were rows of sea fans, large and small. The palette of the coral reefs ranged from yellow to pink to purple. The school of silver slides showed off as they moved rapidly as a pack.

A diver behind silver slides. Photo by Emily Chan.

The third dive was a working dive! The dive at Yelliet Kecil began at 1600. The Fish Team tried to put a 50-meter transect, but the topography of the reef sloped and they ran out of space, needing to adjust the entire transect another 10 meters. The Coral Team was hard at work - they recorded the hard coral diversity in the first two sites, up to 40m. They recorded one rare coral species at 45 meters. On the third site, they laid a 50-meter transect at 15-20m with video and macro photography, and another 50-meter transect between 5-10m. Paul reported that soft coral cover was high, and hard coral cover was medium.

After cancelling night dives for the last two nights due to rough weather, the night dive for tonight finally pushed through!

Tomorrow, we continue diving in Raja Ampat and resume data collection for microplastics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 - Mola Mola Team

 

Plastics trawling drone photo by Levente Rozsahegyi

Day 3 -Daily Log - Mola Mola Team

Date: October 3, 2018

Boat location: Mioskoon

Dive sites: Sauwenderek Jetty (0730), Manta Sandy (1100), Dayang Bay (1500)

Weather conditions: Sunny and clear skies 

After a night of rainy weather and leaky roofs the weather cleared up spectacularly for Day 3 of our surveys. The Coral team went out to Sauwenderek jetty and found significant coral diversity, teeming with fish life. Lots of wobbegongs just lurking around amongst the corals, and we made some good progress with the fish surveys as well. Just before lunch, the team camped out at the Manta Sandy cleaning station for a silty dive and hung out with the manta rays. The drone team were able to get some spectacular aerial shots of sunset, as well as the plastics team doing their regular trawl. 

Wobbygong photo by Marco Steiner

Coral Survey Team photo by Jen Ong




 

Day 4 - Daily Log - Damai II

 

Look at that majestic tail flukes! © Jayne Jenkins

Daily log – Day 5 - DAMAI II

Date: 3 October 2018

Boat location(s): Departed Manuk (1620 hrs) to Misool, due to bad weather conditions, we had to miss out on Koon.

Dive sites: No dives today

Weather conditions: Sunny and smooth waves (0.1 – 0.5 m high)

General notes:

During the sail from Manuk to Koon, rough seas have delayed our schedule. Decision was made to miss out on Koon as we will not have arrived there until early evening.

Sarah-Jo and her Blue Whale! © Brett Lobwein

In the serious business of ocean conservation, the DAMAI team showed that it is possible to also have a whale of a time. In the early morning, we got up close and personal on our tenders to some majestic whales! Drone photography, shots from the boats and search images from the web have confirmed sightings of both fin whales and blue whales.

Utilising the calm sailing weather (the first Damai has had the whole trip so far!) Sarah-Jo was able to start the microplastic analysis - sorting, identifying and classifying the type and abundance of microplastic pieces collected in our first 30-minute sea surface trawl. Over a distance of 1.09 nautical miles, most of the 500-micrometre sieved sample was gelatinous and crustacean larvae with only a few microplastic pieces – including a 2mm blue fragment, five 1mm granules (needs chemical analysis); pieces of filaments including a long thread, ten polystyrene foam that is most probably contamination from the neuston net packaging, and six unknown black fragment that may be plastic or organic.

We are currently sailing overnight to Misool and is expected to arrive at 0900 hrs. We have corals and fish surveys, plastic trawling and black water dive planned the next day.

Sarah-Jo Lobwein sorting microplastic pieces from the organics in our first plastic trawl. © Jayne Jenkins

 

 

 

 

Day 4 - Daily Log - Gaia Love

 

A school of jacks in the site Too Many Fish. Photo by Emily Chan.

Day 4 - Daily Log - Gaia Love

Date: October 3, 2018

Boat location: Ruun

Dive site: Too Many Fish (AO09, AO10)

Weather conditions: Sunny and cloudy

Highlights:

We arrived in Ruun at 7:30AM after a bumpy crossing. During the pre-dive briefing, we were told to beware of strong currents in the dive site Too Many Fish. To everyone's surprise, the dive had only a mild current. The site lived up to its name: there were too many fish! In addition to schools of different kinds of fish, a bumphead parrotfish, and a whitetip shark, turtles were also spotted.

The second dive began in the same site at noon. We expected similar calm conditions, so the Fish and Coral Teams prepared for their respective transects. There were still too many fish, but there were also too strong currents, bringing divers to different directions.

Despite the current, the Coral Team managed to place their 50-meter transect at 7 meters. Our resident coral scientist, Paul, says the site had fair to high diversity and healthy reefs.

Paul Muir observing the corals. Photo by Emily Chan.

Coral transect. Photo by Emily Chan.

The Fish Team had to abort their first dive due to the conditions. On their second attempt, they were able to lay the transect and conduct the survey.

After the two dives, the Microplastics Team went out on a skiff to deploy the net. Our Principal Scientist, Charlotte, completed the microplastics count by the evening. We only collected five pieces of plastic: three filaments, one film, and one fragment. This was the least number of plastics among the three sites, possibly because Ruun has been our most remote site so far.

This evening's night dive was cancelled due to the winds, but this means we'll reach Raja Ampat faster! Tomorrow, we arrive in Raja Ampat!