Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Day 2: Moorea Reef Sharks

June 21, 2013

Today was an incredible day.  Linda and I got to relax for a while this morning when Johann and Jeremy made a hardware store run to get supplies for attaching cameras to different parts of the forereef.  We’ll be setting up multiple stations close to shark feeding sites and then a number far from feeding sites.  Hopefully that will allow us to get an idea of how many sharks are in different areas of the reef and how they might influence reef dynamics.  But, before we get started on that we need to get our boat schedule set!   We did get a boat for a little while this afternoon and went for a recon snorkel of the lagoon site where whiprays and blacktip reef sharks get fed. 

It was an amazing couple hours including an awesome boat ride across crystal clear waters in front of stunning cliffs and forests.  When we got to the feeding point, the sharks and rays were waiting for us.  The sound of an approaching boat attracts them quickly and a bunch of rays and a couple sharks were swirling around the boat before the anchor was set.  We had a good time snorkeling with the animals – some of the blacktips were obviously pregnant - and planning our sampling protocols for feeding ecology studies and the cameras that we will be deploying on the sharks to investigate their behavior.  We have two camera systems that will be perfect for these smaller reef sharks!  But that will probably be a project for Wednesday or Thursday.

Once we got back it was time to grab some bait and get set up for another nursery area sampling effort!  Unfortunately the tide was super low so it didn’t work out, but there are plenty more nights to get the samples we need with Jeremy and Johann here for four weeks.  With any luck, tomorrow we’ll be doing our first captures of adult sharks offshore.
Arriving at the feeding site

The rays swarmed the boat before we set the anchor - little did they know we didn't have any food for them!
Whipray and blacktip reef sharks

One of our field vehicles...please pass the duct tape.

Setting up the net for nursery area sampling
A blacktip reef shark next to the restaurant where we had dinner.

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