Friday, October 25, 2013

Moorea Reef Sharks Day 6

October 25, 2013

Before I get to the sharks…er or attempt to work with sharks…I give you a photo of our alarm clock!  Now…the myth is that roosters wake you up at dawn.  Well, here on Moorea they aren’t bothered by technicalities like daylight…5am and dark is fine for them.  And 530.  And 0600, but by then we are up and having coffee anyway.

Our alarm clock during one of its rare quiet moments

Well, you can’t win ‘em all!  We had a beautiful start to the day and were poised to catch a shark to deploy our shark-cam.  But, before one of the three sharks circling the bait could take it a large tourist boat came over and anchored right next to us.  We tried to find another spot, but we couldn’t catch a shark before it was too late in the day to deploy a camera.  We’ll give it another go tomorrow!  We did, however, have a really nice test flight of the quadcopter.  The ‘copter has a video camera mounted to it and we will be able to use it to assess shark abundances on the shallow reef and in nursery areas.  Today was about making sure we could retrieve it from the boat and picking the best speed and altitude to fly!  The test was a success and involved no unintended plunges into the Pacific Ocean.

Getting ready to leave from CRIOBE
Getting ready to fish for sharks

Jeremy preparing the quadcopter.  
Test flight!

View of our boat from the quadcopter.
The day started so calm and sunny...
Landing the quadcopter safely!

We were going to go a nursery area tonight, but we were thwarted by a tropical downpour that is still going on!  But the silver lining is that it gave us time to review the footage from the stationary cameras we deployed and retrieved yesterday. 

The rain got even worse than this!

The cameras really did an amazing job, recording for almost seven hours and providing high-quality video.  Check out the pictures for a sample – lots of sharks (especially the site closer to the feeding site), tons of fish, turtles, and dolphins!  In addition to basic numbers of reef species, we will also be able to investigate the behavior of the sharks and fish. 

This blacktip reef shark was at the site far from the shark feeding spot.  There are a lot of sharks here!  Just way more near the places they can get a free meal. 
Spinner dolphins (at the top of the frame)

Mike and Jeremy very happy to see no leaks in the camera housing!

Ok, so I got distracted and had to take a picture of the lemon shark while Jeremy finished installing the camera!

Pufferfish swimming right past the camera.

Sicklefin lemon shark caught on the stationary camera.

Another lemon swimming through.

Hawksbill turtle

So, after a fairly slow afternoon today, we will have an ambitious plan for tomorrow.  Of course, that assumes that the rain slows enough to see more than four feet in front of you.  Anyway… the plan is deploy the stationary cameras, catch a shark to deploy a shark cam and collect samples, collect samples from other sharks, retrieve shark cam and stationary cameras, go to a nursery area to sample, then collapse.    There aren’t a ton of days left for Linda and I so we need to pack them full!  Of course, the work will continue for another month with Jeremy and Johann…and hopefully for years after that!

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