Update from our Malaysia coral reef expedition (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/malaysia)

NOTE that this is a text-only diary for now as we are struggling to get pictures through whilst at sea. As soon as we manage to send some pictures, we will add them to the WordPress, Facebook, etc. versions of the diary too.

Thursday (18 Aug)

I’m pleased to say that to everyone’s relief all passed enough tests so that we can start our Reef Check survey dives tomorrow. After a long day we go to bed happy and looking forward to doing some surveys in the morning.

Friday (19 August)

We have started running two surveys at the same time, at two different depths, so everyone needs to be slick getting their gear on and getting into the water. We ran through how each member of the team will operate in the water and in what order and at what speed everyone needs to move. There’s quite a lot to remember, which is why the first survey is a practice survey, with everyone getting used to how the theory operates underwater. We had quite a lot of fun and a lot of people come with an ‘oh, I didn’t think…… would be like that’ comment – but all went well. After a debrief and lunch we headed to a new dive site to undertake our first full survey. which goes well. The evening is full of good food (again), reef life books and stories, with a thunderstorm flashing and rumbling in distant clouds.

Saturday (20 August)

We managed to do three different sites with two Reef Check surveys at all of them. The sites had lots of coral and almost no bleaching, despite the El Nino event that came through in May and bleached about 30% of the corals at the time. The reefs that we are seeing are almost fully recovered, with only a small amount of bleaching in the shallower (5 m) survey sites. All the sites have a great variety of hard corals and some lovely fish and other marine life such as nudibrancs and cuttlefish. Two of the sites have a lot of large mounds and gulleys, which make the survey dives both interesting and challenging. The last survey is done at a site with lots of current wiping us along down our transect, so just when we were getting comfortable, we had a little bit extra to think about. Good to have a challenge at the end of the day! The day ends with drinks as the sun goes down – and some retesting for those who want it, after all, it’s not a holiday 😉

Update from our scuba diving volunteering expedition helping to save the coral reefs of Malaysia and Tioman Island.

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