Tuesday was spent shopping and getting visas renewed in Mataram, so we ended up with another dry day.
Gili Goleng Reef Check Survey: The tides have been keeping us close to home in the mornings this week, so we’ve only been able to fit in one morning dive on the boat. We headed over to Gili Goleng and did a 7m Reef Check Transect. This is a survey that we can carry out after being trained in Reef Check Methods for the Indo-Pacific. It consists of four 20m transects that survey select families and species of fish, invertebrates, substrate type, and impacts to the reef. It requires at least four people (three to do the survey and 1 to roll out the transect) to conduct this survey, and usually takes the entire dive. We like to switch up who has each roll between surveys so that we all get a chance to see different things during our dives.
House Reef Debris Dive: We like to get out and make sure that we pick up debris on our house reef when we can so that we have fewer plastic pieces impacting our reef. We are located near the river, so we have more trash which washes down with the river and sinks to the bottom in the silt. We bring a big pink bag, and sometimes survey what we find to have a better understanding of the types of debris. On this dive we found two grocery bags, one plastic bottle, and 26 plastic packaging bags. This was fairly light findings as we started farther away from the mouth of the river. This next week will likely see us moving a bit closer to the mouth of the river and significantly increasing our findings.
Coral Beach Reef Check Dive: We intended to do a reef check dive here, but after a few hydroid stings and strong current underwater we decided it wasn’t great for a survey and decided to turn it into a fun dive! Even on our fun dives, we are always looking for discarded fishing gear, plastic debris, and rare animal sightings to record – turtles, sharks, manta rays, etc.
House Reef Night Dive: We’ve been talking about a night dive for a while, so we were excited to get out on Thursday! We saw lots of cool crabs, a bobtail squid, and a crocodile fish! It’s always fun to see different fish out at night than during the day, and to find the day fish hiding and trying to sleep in crevices.
Jay’s Cathedral/Batfish Cave/Batfish Canyon: We went with Jay himself to Jay’s Cathedral in the morning to try and get photos and video of turtles and sharks to record and input into our ID program. We are working to do individual turtle ID to get a better idea of the distribution around us, and evidence of sharks is always good to assess the health of a reef because they are apex predators, so a healthy reef likely has enough food to support them, while an unhealthy one does not. I saw 3 sharks (a bamboo nurse shark and 2 white-tip reef sharks), though there may have been others. This is also a fun dive site because we see really big fish (and because it has a frogfish!).
Orange County/Stairs of Medan: This was more of an exploratory dive to see what was at this site, but also to collect debris and fishing gear. There was a super strong current around the corner of this dive sight, so it was a drift dive until we reached the Stairs of Medan. This site often has cool nudibranchs, and we were able to stop and observe a large Spanish Dancer, but the current was quite strong, so we didn’t have tons of time to check as we were whizzing along so fast! Impressively, Mike managed to collect fishing wire during this drifting. Towards the end of the dive we also saw a green turtle which was gorgeous, but didn’t get a chance to take any pictures.
Coral Beach Reef Check Survey (x2): We did two Reef Check surveys at Coral Beach at different depths. There are different depth ranges to conduct surveys because different organisms are more likely to be found in different areas of the reef. On the second dive I was doing invertebrates and found an octopus!
Gili Goleng Coral Plant: We returned to Gili Goleng to plant more coral on the metal structures and to double check that our work from Wednesday still looked good and didn’t need adjustments. On this dive we found a pair of mandarin fish and another crocodile fish!
Jay’s Cathedral: Sunday Funday! Sunday is the day when we just do fun dives, so it was by popular demand that we returned to Jay’s Cathedral. We had a great dive, and while we didn’t see any sharks, saw two blue spotted rays and a turtle!
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Written by Aubrey Pelletier.