Our new blogger, Guy Henderson, reports on this summer’s undergraduate research expedition at the Open Ocean Science Centre at Roots Camp, El Quseir, Egypt…
June and July are busy months for science at Roots Camp and Pharaoh Dive Club El Quseir. This is when the annual University of Glasgow marine research expedition is based on site at the Open Ocean Science Centre. The students will be here until the end of July undertaking fieldwork for dissertations and doing data analysis in the purpose built marine lab. The team consists of eight members painstakingly selected way back in October. They have spent the last 8 months designing projects, applying for grants, fundraising and honing their diving skills. There is a good range of experience within the team with one first year, two second years, a fourth year (recently graduated) and four third year honours students. The third years will be collecting data for their dissertations and each have been assigned a buddy from the remaining team members to help with data collection.
Pilot studies and equipment familiarisation went without a hitch and the projects are all well underway with a substantial amount of data already collected. Below we will introduce the individual project methodologies and scientific relevance. We have two diving projects which are undertaken by members with diving qualifications at rescue level or higher, a shore based project on the reef flat and a rather exciting camera drop project which makes use of the speedboat.
Bella & Sarah – Camera drops in the mesophotic zone
Bella is investigating arguably the most mysterious of reef habitats; Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems (MCEs). Ranging in depths from 30 to 150 metres, MCEs receive enough light penetrating the surface waters for vibrant life but are generally too deep for traditional scuba diving techniques so are vastly understudied in comparison to shallow reefs. Round the globe there are gaps in our knowledge but particularly in the Red Sea, where the diverse marine life has yet to be fully charted on the map of scientific research.
Bella is using an innovative technique to capture footage of fish at varying depths within the MCE range. She is doing this by dropping a 3D camera off an RIB at GPS marked co-ordinates, 75-degree bearings from the shore, at depth level increments of roughly 10 metres. The footage will be used to identify and count all the fish found at each depth level as well as measure their biomass using EventMeasure software. Guy and her have been working hard on the construction of an intricate rig structure to protect the camera in the water, which will be essential to the effective success of the drops.
Duncan & Rachel – Coral cover and light intensity
Duncan will be quantifying the effect of Photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) on the community structure of scleratinian (Hard) corals on the Abu Sautir reef. Understanding the impact differing PAR levels have on coral abundance and diversity will indicate the importance of light as an abiotic driver of coral community composition. Coupled with the lack of research and relevant literature in the Red Sea, Duncan’s study will provide valuable data relating to coral cover of a highly diverse yet relatively understudied Red Sea fringing reef.
Clara & Stacey – Reef flat, rock pool diversity
Clara is investigating how factors such as distance from the shore, pH and salinity affect species diversity within the rock-pools in Abu Sautir. This is done by creating transects on the shore and using quadrat sampling to determine the species diversity and abundance. Rock-pools are found in intertidal habitats which may be extreme environments for inhabiting organisms; this is due to tidal changes, rough wave action and fluctuating water parameters. Some organisms have physiological coping mechanisms that help them survive the fluctuation in these conditions, such as starfish which can regulate their salt uptake. However those that are less well adapted to these variable conditions may not be found across the entire range of rock-pools, therefore it will be interesting to discover how the various species are distributed across the reef flat.
Max & Dani – Hawkfish behaviour study
Max will be working on our longest running project by supplementing a 3 year data set. The hawkfish behaviour study aims to look at bold-shy behaviour of freckled hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri) in relation to mortality rates from year to year. Using 3D camera technology and photo identification software, the relative boldness of individual fish can be found and calculated by means of a simulated predator prey interaction. Animal behavioural studies are usually limited to lab settings with controlled conditions; this project is exciting as it allows us to look at the behaviour of fish in their natural habitats while investigating traits that may contribute to the evolution of populations.
Aside from the Student expedition we have a number of volunteers with us throughout the summer months. The volunteers work closely with the local community organising clean up dives, beach and mangrove clean ups and educational outreach programmes with local schools and youth groups.
In the next instalment of this blog we will catch up with the volunteers and the students to see what they have been getting up to as well as checking on how the projects are progressing.
Follow the expedition Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GUEgypt2013/ or on twitter @guegypt
Jeff chats to… Marine Biologist and Underwater Videographer Jake Davies (Watch Video)
In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Jake Davies, Marine Biologist, HSE Professional scuba diver, underwater videographer (using videos and 360 clips for VR) and CAA licensed drone pilot.
Jake grew up on Pen Llŷn, North Wales and coming from a maritime family meant that from a young age the underwater world and marine life have played a major role in his life. His interest in marine life and the sea led to him studying Marine Biology at Bangor University where he was successful in obtaining a year in industry with the Intertidal & Coastal team at Natural Resources Wales.
In 2017 Jake was successfully awarded a Sea-Changers Grant to run ‘Dive Into Monitoring: Seagrass’ surveys with SeaSearch North Wales. The surveys aimed to gather updated information on the Seagrass bed in Porthdinllaen with volunteer divers and local dive clubs.
As a media diver, Jake has worked as part of the dive team (Marine Ecosol) filming for BBC Wales Hidden Wales with Will Millard (Lazerbeam Productions & Folk Films).
Footage which Jake has filmed off the Welsh Coast, as well as the Canary Islands, has been featured for a variety of BBC programmes including an episode of Countryfile where he was interviewed about the Seagrass in Porthdinllaen, Wales along with the rest of the Project Seagrass team. He is also a blogger and contributor to Scubaverse @JDScuba, and a co-director of Under Water Wales @dandwrcymru.
As well as being a HSE Scuba Diver Jake is also employed as the Project Coordinator for Angel Shark Project: Wales. He is also a Project Leader on a Save Our Seas Foundation Project.
Through sharing underwater videos and photos of amazing and unique wildlife/habitats that are found beneath the waves along the Welsh Coast as well as abroad Jake hopes to inspire people to go beneath the waves and making the underwater world more accessible for all.
Find out more about Jake and his work at: https://jakeddavies1996.wixsite.com/jdscuba
Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.
Once in a lifetime magical sighting of an Albino Risso’s Dolphin… (Watch Video)
Is there anything more rewarding during your surface interval after a great dive than seeing unusual animals in your surroundings?
It was November and we had been for a great dive with big fishes and a lot of macro animals in one of our favorite dive sites here in Anda, Bohol. After the dive, we immediately got our coffee and started chatting and debriefing our dive, exchanging thoughts, when our boat captain spotted something not so far from the resort. We rushed to the scene and it there we had the magical experience to see a pod of dolphins in front of us with a surprise sighting of an albino dolphin! Witnessing an albino animal in the wild is such a rare phenomenon – could anything be more exciting?!?!
Albinism results from the animal’s cells failing to produce the melanin pigment responsible for some body part colorations. Hence, this animal lacks the skin cell pigment resulting in it being a pinkish-white dolphin.
As we rushed to look at the dolphins after our dive, we noticed something white. It was so obvious that we could clearly see the white animal mixed with the grey individuals at a certain distance before we arrived. The first question that raised in my head was: “What species of dolphins are these?”
As I looked and observed, I noticed the recognizable lines or scratches all over their bodies (all of them that is except for the white one). Then, looking at their faces when we were closer, it was then I realized that they were Risso’s Dolphins. The white animal that we saw was a rare juvenile Albino Risso’s swimming with them. Ohlalah…. JACKPOT!!!! This was the highlight of a lifetime!!!
I started screaming with joy calling the beautiful animal “PUTI” which literally means white. With them swimming, we went close by to appreciate PUTI and the rest of the pod every time they surfaced for breathing. Together we shared about 20mins of full excitement. And we ended our surface interval incredibly happy and ready for the next exciting dive, waiting to be surprised underwater.
I will never forget this magical moment of the albino dolphin. Hopefully, PUTI and I will meet again sometime and I will be seeing this white beauty again, healthy and adorable.
Written by: Marlon Managa – dive center manager and Marine Biologist at Magic Oceans Dive Resort.
Visit Magic Oceans Anda, Bohol and Magic Island Moalboal, Cebu… find out more at www.magicresorts.online.
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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue. With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after.
Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life. The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.
£1475 per person based on double occupancy. Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available. Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp. Flights and transfers are included. See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.
This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place. Come Dive with Us!
Call 020 3515 9955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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