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!

 

 

 

Day 3 - Daily Log - Damai II - Manuk

 

Day 3 - Daily log – DAMAI II

Date: 2 October 2018

Boat location: Manuk, Banda Sea

Dive sites: Northwest Ridge, Northeast Ridge, Southwest Ridge (W04, W05, W06)

Weather conditions: Sunny and slight waves (0.5 – 1.25m high)

General notes:

The team started our day bright and early with a first dive at Manuk. As explained by our cruise director Irene, Manuk is a volcanic island where sea snakes roam around the coral reefs. As we approach the dive site on a tender, we were enthralled by the sight of frigates and boobies soaring high around the island. Tracey Jennings even saw the birds fighting over a sea snake in the air! The dive was amazing, we had many close encounters with the sea snakes. Renato even had a surprise visitor along his transect during his fish survey with Deon! Sam conducted her coral survey with Josh and was pleasantly overwhelmed by the huge diversity of corals.

The scientists teamed up with Joshua and Virginia for a second survey while the rest of team continued their hunt with sea snakes and general photographs of coral reefs. After with our last dive at Manuk, plastics team leader Sarah-Jo and Brett did a trial run with the plastic trawl and sieving of retrieved trawl contents.

The sea was rough today, the dinner table felt a bit empty as some of the team decided to rest early. We are currently sailing overnight to Koon and is expected to reach at 1000 hrs.

Photo Credits:

Sea snake cruising along the coral reefs at Manuk. © Renato Morais

The sea snake was checking out Renato’s transect line! © Renato Morais

Sam encountered a strange-looking coral. © Sam Shu Qin

Team DAMAI’s first plastic trawl deployment. © Sabrina Inderbitzi

The Damai Plastic team figuring out the best way to sieve the trawl contents. © Sabrina Inderbitzi

 

 

 

Day 3 - Gaia Love Team - Banda Islands

 
Day 3 - Daily Log - Gaia Love

Date: October 2, 2018

Boat location: Banda Islands

Dive sites: Tanjung Noret (0730), Tanjung Noret (1130), Lava Flow (1500)

Weather conditions: Sunny with strong winds

Highlights:

It’s hammer time! We reached the first site, Tanjung Noret, early in the morning. By 7AM, divers were on the dive deck ready to look for hammerheads.

The search did not disappoint: eight minutes into the dive, the first group saw a shiver of hammerheads between 30-32m. Other dive groups spotted hammerheads between 30-40m. Temperature dropped between 21-22C and currents were going in different directions, but no complains! Everyone was thrilled to see hammerheads.

After exchanging hammerhead stories over breakfast, the microplastics team deployed the net to trawl for plastics. A rapid visual inspection revealed fewer large plastics than Ambon, but a closer count will be conducted to identify microplastics

For the second dive, we went back to the same site, Tanjung Noret, in hopes of finding hammerheads again. No sharks greeted us the second time around, but the current was calmer, the visibility was better, and there were diverse schools of fish and coral to keep all divers entertained.

After lunch, we set sail back to Lava Flow to dive in the middle of the afternon.  Paul Muir, our resident coral scientist, says the site as "very high cora cover and moderate/high diversity." The day ended with and easy dive in Lava Flow and a beautiful sunset by the volcano Gunung Api. 

 

 

Day 2 - Mola Mola Team

 
Day 2 - Mola Mola Team

Sorong - Matan Reef

After a calm first evening docked at the port, the Mola Mola set out from Sorong on her maiden voyage with the research crew of 16 on the Elysium Epic expedition. Our first dive was at Matan, full of vibrant coral and marine life. There were shrimp hiding in sand dunes with gobies standing guard, and cuttlefish playing hide and seek with divers among coral reefs.

Team captain Andreas Jaschek Raised the expedition flag when we left port, together with the crew members. We are off to a great start with sunshine and blue skies over the horizon, more updates to come. 

Photo Credits:

Matan Reef - photo by Alex Rose

Orange Shrimp - photo by Marco Steiner