Team 2 just completed their first day of official Reef Check surveys after an exhausting and hot few days of training and tests. Today’s temperature of nearly 38 degrees made the afternoon dive a welcome respite, even if the water they were working in was 31 degrees itself. Have a look at the videos and picture.
Tomorrow we set out to sea to Tulai Island from where we plan to spend a couple of days exploring the islands in the vicinity of the anchorage there. After that we’re off to the other side of Tioman and out to Permandgil Island for a night to pick up a couple of sites we missed with the first team.
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Hello it’s Lisa, your scientst, from Horta, not to be confused with Alisa!
I am going a bit stir crazy after six months of being stuck on land. I am looking forward to the expedition in a couple of weeks. There have already been sightings of baleen and sperm whales from the lookouts. We aim to get identification photographs of blue, fin, sei and humpback whales as they migrate past the islands. Last year we had 2 blue whales that had been seen in previous years, so we will be looking to build on that this year. We have also had two humpback whales match to animals seen in the Cape Verde Islands! This year I will also be collaborating with a scientist in Bermuda, so widening the scope for possible matches. And then we have our “regular” sperm whales. They can keep us very busy at sea sometimes if we come across a large group. We will be taking photographs of their flukes and matching them to the catalogue that I keep of animals seen elsewhere in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. It will be nice to see some old friends that have been sighted before and also some new ones passing by the Azores for the first time. If we are lucky we may find a new match of a male to Norway or another female that has been to the Canaries in addition to animals seen in previous years in the Azores. If there are no whales around, we are always on the lookout for dolphins or turtles. Bottlenose & Risso’s dolphin are also target species for photo-identification, while common and striped are always a joy to watch if they choose to bowride with the boat. We also try to catch and tag loggerhead turtles for the joint University of the Azores/University of Florida turtle programme.
While on the boat, you will all have jobs to do. Remember that this is not just a whale watching holiday! Someone records data for all the cetacean sightings; another job will be to take ID photos of target species with the expedition camera, as well as any nice people/scenic photos during the day. A team member keeps the log for the boat. A couple of people each day will be responsible for filling in POPA paperwork (I’ll explain what POPA stands for when you get here). We are the only non-fishing boat that participates in this project, collecting data on random sightings of cetaceans as well as turtle and bird surveys. And of course don’t forget the most important jobs of all – the observers. A couple of you will be lookouts, trying to spot the animals at sea! It is not easy to spot whales and dolphins at sea, but you will get better at it as the expedition goes along. There will be a couple of days for a little bit of R&R around the island as well as data entry at base. Photos of Risso’s dolphin from previous years are on the computers at the base for you to crop and match if you have spare time (for example during foul wheather days when we can’t go out on the boat). Other ongoing project is entering data from previous year’s logbooks & data sheets.
At the end of your slot, you may need a holiday to recover!
The second team for the 2013 Biosphere Reef Check expedition to Malaysia are all on deck now and officially briefed for duty. Again we have a week of training and land based research surveys before once again heading out to sea on the good ship Araliya for another week of ocean-based research around Tioman Island and the more remote islands beyond. Yesterday we hit the water for our important buoyancy workshop dive and who knows, we may even find the elusive “silver turtle” rumored to frequent the house reef at the Tioman Dive Centre… Team 1 will know what I mean…
Update: there are five projects in the running and apparently we are in the lead with another one, or so the organisers tell us! So please keep on voting for us now and spreading the word via your social and other networks.
The first slot of the Malaysia 2013 Reef Check expedition returned to port yesterday after a very successful voyage around Tioman Island and out to the remote Permandgil Island where comms were poor, but the coral was awesome. Of great encouragement to our hopes that healthy reefs still occur in the region was that our scientist, Alvin, who has dived extensively throughout Asia described the reefs around Permandgil in very glowing terms. We completed all surveys and the data collected is already logged into the Reef Check system. We also managed a few lazy dives (without data collection), which were very chilled out and easy by comparison to the focus of the transect surveys.
I now have a day back at Swiss Cottage to scrub up and get my gear into order before the crew for slot two arrive. The internet sucks here, but who cares. As we know the worse the comms, the better the reefs ;), but it also means that I have only been able to upload a few pictures…
Snow leopards are critically endangered throughout their range. Threatened by poaching, retaliatory killings and habitat loss, there are only a few thousand left in the wild! We need your help to protect them and win a snow leopard conservation grant from EOCA (European Outdoor Conservation Association) through an online vote. With the help of this grant we will be able to give snow leopard conservation a powerful boost through research, community involvement and education, and by generating local income through nature-based tourism.
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Hello and welcome from HQ to the first Azores diary entry. We’re packing up and getting ready for you. Our Azores expedition has been running for many years, so most things are in Horta and the expedition packed up looks very small. Crucial bits include a couple of cameras and laptops (which are with our scientist in Horta year-round) for gathering and entering data, as well as some snazzy Swarovski binoculars (new this year and being shipped soon) for spotting whale blows and the animals themselves – that is if you don’t get seasick looking through them 😉
Staff with you will be Alisa and Lisa as per you dossier. You will also have Vera Menges on the first slot. Vera will soon start as our resident biologist in Namibia and before she goes to Africa will spend a week or so with you on the Azores to see what the jobs of expedition leader and expedition scientist entail.
Alisa will soon send you a video diary entry from the USA, where she is getting ready, and here is a video of Lisa and our research
The first team of the 2013 Malaysia expedition have all passed their Reef Check exams and are, as I write, under water conducting their second actual research survey. Yesterday, we surveyed a site called Tomok, where last year I found a beautiful but dangerous flower urchin. Alvin, our scientist, is happy with the progress of the expedition thus far and today after lunch we board the Araliya and head out to sea. The photos and video are of the team doing their first Reef Check transect survey.