Experimental Tropical Marine Ecology

Day 7: Barrrracuda / Fish n’ Corals
by -- October 15th, 2010

Box jelly - extremely dangerous.

Last night, we were given the rare chance to go snorkeling off the dock at dark. Then, today, we visited a different mangrove forest and coral reef. After lunch, we finished up our weekly experiments in preparation for presentations tomorrow. Our time here is winding down!

Note: Apologies for the late posting of this entry – I was unable to access the pictures until this morning!

I guess this entry starts with last night: snorkeling off the dock at night. This was an optional activity and I chose to stay in, but heard all about it when everyone returned. The consensus seemed to be that there were a horde of barracudas. If you don’t know what a barracuda looks like it’s a long, thin fish that has these eyes that really can stare at you. That’s what they do – stare at you eerily as you swim by. One is creepy enough – now picture a bunch of them. With the limited scope of the lamp they used, fish would only appear in their line of sight once they were extremely close… leaving some people swimming away in fright 🙂

Today we visited a different mangrove forest and snorkeled there, since the waves were too choppy for us to make the 45-minute trek to a different coral reef (it was hard enough sitting on the boat for 15 minutes; I can’t imagine sitting there for that amount of time times three!). This one didn’t have as many Cassiopea jellies, though I did see one with yellow tentacles. The fire sponge stopped me from venturing too far into the forest, as did the jellyfish that were present there…

We then went to a completely different coral reef. This one is definitely my favorite coral reef. It had SO many fish – big ones, too! Some traveled in schools, others peeked out from beneath rocks or coral formations. The coral, too, was bigger and more elaborate, since the reef was deeper than others we’ve visited. I saw coral in huge, bulbous formations that had hollow areas for fish to swim through; I also saw what appeared to be a large wok-shaped formation on the bottom. Very cool!

We finished up experiments in lab this afternoon. I worked with some more orientation crabs, then did an experiment dealing with shell fit. We got the hermit crabs out of their shell, weighed them, then tested their volume (of crab and shell). We expect the ones that went towards the small targets (and smelled the dead hermit crabs/went to them) will be “too big for their britches” so to speak. Analysis will be done tomorrow afternoon!

It’s strange to think that we’ll be home in a few days, but it’s true. What an interesting trip this has been.

Pictures from Dr. Forward’s camera:


Some of the organisms found in mangrove roots.

And again!

It’s not uncommon to see tons of fish like this, swimming around rapidly around the mangrove roots.

Dr. Forward said he had never seen a green starfish before, so it’s definitely worth a picture. I didn’t know they existed!

A house near the island where we snorkeled. Notice how rough the waves were – this was a very violent boat ride!

The kind of stuff you see on the bottom of a coral reef.


Brains – not really, but very similar. Fish love them.

A school of yellow fish – this reef was notable for the amount of huge fish it had. Red ones, blue ones, yellow ones – some were quite curious and got close to my face, but others darted away quickly.

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