Friday, August 04, 2006

I'm feeling much better now. We went diving yesterday out on the west side of the island but there wasn't much to report. Visibility was only about 20 feet or so because there seemed to be a lot of run off in the area. We found some anemones but only one clown and that one disappeared shortly after I spotted it so we didn't get any fish.

Today we went back to our site on the east side of the island and it was very nice. The current wasn't quite as bad as it had been and we were able to catch the two fish that had been giving us a really hard time and two more as well. Since there were three of us (me, Jeremie, and Marina), I was able to get some pictures of the catching and clipping process.

This is the fish that took forever to catch. All together, we probably spent three hours (over several days) chasing this little bastard around all over the reef. We finally put out the big net and managed to corral him (coral... corral? I'm sure there's a bad pun there somewhere). Anyway, the first step of the process is to find the fish (sometimes an adventure by itself) and get it in the net.

The next thing we do is to measure the fish and write the measurement on the data sheet. The really big ones have to be measured a little differently. We measure from the mouth to the second blue bar and add that to the measurement from the blue bar to the caudal fin. The biggest we've found was over 17cm. The largest reported specimen before that was 15cm. I have personally seen the world's largest (reported) clown fish. Hurray for me. I also put a small car in a large ditch.

After we measure the critter, we clip a small portion of the caudal fin off. They don't seem to like this a whole lot but they swim just fine afterward. The fin grows back. I've seen fish that have been clipped a couple of weeks ago and they're just fine. You can even see where the fin is starting to grow back.In this picture, you can see the net we use to make a corral in the coral. You can also see that Marina has teeny tiny little eyes like some sort of cave dwelling creature. O-kay, that's a lie. She actually just has a perscription mask that makes her look really funny underwater.

Jeremie is holding the little plastic vial that has the fin clipping in it. That little fin clipping will get preserved and sent back to Santa Cruz with Marina where the DNA will be sequenced. After that, all manner of fancy biogeographical stuff will happen and we'll learn about paterns of dispersal for reef fish, and papers will be written, awards will be won, and the grant money will flow like caffine free soda at a mormon wedding.

It's late now so I'm going to bed. Bye bye.

No comments: