After 15 full days of Cay Sal Bank coral reef research, our expedition team is still going strong. Our survey divers have completed transects and fish counts at 29 separate sites across the bank on nearly 40 dives. You can see each of these dive spots labeled below with red markers. The satellite groundtruthing team has covered hundreds of kilometers in the catamaran and surveyed nearly 400 sites with their drop camera. You can see their tracks as green markers on our map.
Yesterday afternoon the team had a chance to travel over to North Elbow Cay near where the M/Y Golden Shadow was anchored (see “Anchor 5” above).
The small island has a 60-foot stone lighthouse on it that has been inactive since the 1940s and fallen into decay.It was formerly used to mark where the Gulf of Mexico met the southern entrance of the Florida Straits. In the 1970s, Bahamian authorities had a small post on the island in an effort to curb drug smuggling in the area, but all of the buildings have since been abandoned.
Our team took several of the small tenders over and checked out what was left on the island. The lighthouse’s structure is still solid, but the inside stairwell and floor have collapsed and all that’s left of the stone buildings are the walls. There were a fair amount of birds inhabiting the island and we were careful not to disturb their nesting areas. All in all it was nice to walk on land for a bit.
On Tuesday, our research diving team coordinated to get a photo with the Earth Flag for SeaWeb. They’re asking ocean conservationists to take a photo with the Earth Flag between Earth Day [April 22] and World Oceans Day [June 8] as a way to share their ocean stories. The Earth Flag originated with cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead who carried it with her for nearly a decade. We’re happy to take part in the Earth Flag Blue Planet Campaign.
“The Earth Flag is my symbol of the task before us all. … Unless we care, unless we check the rapacious exploitations of our Earth and protect it, we are endangering the future of our children and our children’s children.”—Dr. Margaret Mead, March 21, 1977
Last, but not least, we also had a guest diver join us for the day from the M/Y Golden Shadow. Second Engineer Del Parke celebrated his birthday with a couple of dives off of the Golden Osprey with our research team. Executive Director Phil Renaud took this shot of Del checking out a nice Gorgonian coral. Happy Birthday, Del!
To follow along and see more photos, please visit us on Facebook! You can also follow the expedition on our Global Reef Expedition page, where there is more information about our research and our team members.
Post by Liz Smith
(Images/Photos: 1. Amanda Williams; 2. Liz Smith; 3. Bill Mills; 4. Phil Renaud)