May 13, 2021 Julia Fedorova
Today was the fourth day of diving, and the first day that we were able to venture outside of CARMABI. The first two dives of the day were done in Boka Sami, a small fishing village not far from the research station. The surface swim was a little challenging, as we had to swim quite a distance to reach the drop off, however it was well worth it. I saw many different types of coral, shrimp, and a giant lobster that was hiding under a rock. Today my group was in charge of laying down all of the transects at various depths, as well as taking photos of the benthos. Although taking photos is a challenging task that requires stellar buoyancy, I find it satisfying to analyze the photos back on the surface.
The final dive took place at the Water Factory, which is the water desalination plant in Curacao. Curacao only gets 500mm of rain a year, which is the only source of freshwater on the island, causing a huge shortage of drinking water. So this plant uses reverse osmosis to desalinate seawater. The dive site was not off of a beach, so the entrance was precarious, but well worth it. The drop off to the reef started very close to shore and I was able to see hundred different types of coral as soon as I reached the start of the reef. This was definitely the most beautiful reef that we have been to so far. The corals were well established and abundant, covering the majority of the benthos. Additionally, the gorgonian population was so large that some sections of the reef looked like an underground forest. For this dive I ran the transects all around the reef, which was physically challenging, but I was able to see a large section of the reef. Overall, today was very interesting. We were able to finally visit some other sites and see the variations in the reef from one location to the next.
Photos by Julia Fedorova and Abigail Vivlamore
The authors of this blog are students enrolled in Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation, field courses run in the Caribbean by the University of South Florida. In 2019, the course went to the Carmabi research station in Curaçao and dived around the island over a 10-day period, for training and to carry out research projects. In 2018, the group went to Soufriere, Saint Lucia, and took part in various projects in partnership with the Soufriere Marine Management Association. In this blog, students will document their activities and how they relate to course material.