Tuesday: Dugongs and Turtles and Sharks...OH MY!!

Today we continued research on all of the three boats.  I was on “Glaucus” where we did two activities.  First of all, we had four gopro cameras attached to bricks with a rope and floating device tied onto them so you could see their location from the surface of the water.  Before the cameras went into the water, we turned them on and held up a piece of

paper that gave information to identify what footage was being recorded.  This is a picture of the gopro cameras before we put them in the water:

Camera

We put these cameras at different locations with bait bags containing dead pilchards in them held into the sand at the bottom of the water with plastic pegs, about 50cm in front of them.  The bait bags look like this:

bait bucket

We came back an hour later to collect the cameras and bait bags, and then later on back at base we watched the footage recorded to see which sea creatures were eating at the bait.  When I went to collect one of the cameras in the water I saw two very guilty looking puffer fish sitting next to the camera so I'm pretty sure they had been munching away before I got there.  The footage that we collected showed a number of beautiful big rays that glided down over the top of the camera then sat in front of it trying to eat the bait, along with a number of other fish species.  I will be able to bring back some footage after the trip, but in the meantime have a look at some of the footage that was taken on last years expedition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znctrwVdCck.

Because I feel the cold the wetsuit I am wearing is very thick – pretty much the water version of my big puffer jacket, so I’m finding it pretty tricky to dive down and set up and collect the cameras.  I did manage to get down in the afternoon though.  I was pretty pleased!  Also, at one stage I was able to see dugong tracks in the seagrass where they have been grazing  It basically looked like sand pathways through the seagrass. 

Second of all, we did some more mapping of the seagrass, just like yesterday, except today people were diving down, looking at the bottom of the water and idenfiying the sediment, presense/ type/ coverage of seagrass and algae. Here is a picture of a seagrass sample that was retrieved:

seagrass tuesday

Again we were noting down the longitude and latitude references.  Here is a photo of our record sheet:

record sheet

Today we were able to see SO many different species of marine life.  We saw some massive turtles, a shovelnose shark (which I have been told is actually a ‘ray’ not a shark), dolphins, eagle rays and yes…DUGONGS!!!  We were just cruising around and ended up spotting a couple of dugongs, and before we knew it, there were about 30 of them around us.  It was just incredible!  They were coming up for air, and at one stage they were close enough for me to hear them blowing out as they came up to the surface.  Some of them were massive and we were able to see some younger ones as well.  Even though they are so big they sure can move quickly in the water.  It certainly was an experience I’ll never forget!  I am looking forward to showing you some of the footage that I took, but in the meantime, here is a photograph of a dugong (hard to see I know, it's in the middle):

Dugong 2

Tomorrow I am on the Tender boat, which I am told is pretty rough and even if you are not diving into the water and swimming you will get very wet!  We will be collecting seagrass samples for the most of the day, so I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.