Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Turtles, Sharks, and Seagrass of Abaco, Bahamas - Post 1



BRUVs, turtles and seagrass: week 1 in Abaco, Bahamas

By: Laura Thornton



The past week in the beautiful Abaco, Bahamas has been a whirlwind to say the least. Beth Whitman and my fellow members of her intern army, Liberty Boyd and Ryley Parent, began building and deploying BRUV (baited remote underwater video) units for the Global Fin Print Project (https://globalfinprint.org/) on the outer reef. We also ventured out to scout sites for Beth’s study of green turtle foraging behavior and distributions. We checked out a couple of bays for ideal seagrass coverage in order to eventually conduct green turtle, shark (predators) and seagrass (food) abundance surveys. Once we reached our destination of Water Cay (about 20 minutes away), we interns had a crash course on scientific names for local seagrasses and algae and practiced the Braun-Blanquet method for rating abundance.

The next couple days had a very early start to them in order to take advantage of the perfect weather conditions. On the first day e set out with the assistance of Stephen Connett, a turtle researcher, and a volunteer from The Bahamas National Trust to go deploy as many BRUV units as possible (tagging sea turtles after was our reward). After almost 11 hours on the water we deployed twelve BRUV units! After the BRUV deployments, we mustered up the last bit of energy we had for the day to have Stephen take us to a shallow part of Scotland Cay to go find some turtles. We managed to capture, tag and release three green turtles; the largest one being ~26 kg.


The next day was BRUV day round two and we managed 12 more deployments! We learned that chicken wire can slice your hands faster than you can say ouch, and sometimes you have to almost fall off the boat in order to get a good picture (cough cough, Beth). 8:30 PM is a very ideal bedtime in case anyone was curious about the riveting life of a scientist. Overall a great first week of work down here!
A small reef shark investigates a BRUV

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