The Reef at Night: How The Reef Changes: Project SeaCAMEL – Module 2

The Reef at Night: How The Reef Changes - Project SeaCAMEL

This underwater coral reef lesson about the reef at night video was filmed live as part of Living Oceans Foundation Project SeaCAMEL underwater classroom.

Recorded ‘as live’ a film with Drs. Hagan and Patterson, Capt. Renaud and award-winning filmmaker and cameraman D.J. Roller will venture outside Aquarius after the sun sets to see how the reef changes at night.  Mr. Roller will have a portable high intensity blue light source and a blocking blue filter for the camera.  The aquanauts will wear special filters in their dive masks as well.  We will first travel underneath the habitat and examine the diverse community of sponges, corals, and antipatharian octocorals that have settled onto the habitat and grown.  Many of these, as well as the nearby reef corals will fluoresce vividly.  Underneath the habitat, we will overturn coral rubble and test many of the invertebrates present, including shrimps, polychaetes, brittlestars, and burrowing sea aenomones, for fluorescence.  On the patches of reef near the habitat, the team will provide some extreme close-ups and commentary on the feeding corals.  Polyps, the modular units that are contracted inside the calices of a coral colony by day, are expanded at night, and we will observe their feeding behavior.  Our dive lights will probably attract a rich soup of dermersal zooplankton consisting of copepods, mysid shrimp, polychaetes and invertebrate larvae of several phyla, as well as larval fishes and crustaceans.  When we bring our dive lights near the expanded polyps, a feeding frenzy ensues!  One species that is particularly good at carnivory of this kind is Montastrea cavernosa.  There are several beautiful colonies of this species near the habitat.  Earlier in the day, our surface support team will have deployed several plankton traps over substrates of various kinds, and we will go over and see what we caught.  We will also keep our eyes open for interesting fish behavior including searching for parrotfishes sleeping in their mucus cocoons.  Towards the end of the broadcast the team will move up on the habitat near the underwater lights and we will film the predator show.  The demersal zooplankton that have escaped the carnivory of the benthos are now drawn to the lights, where they are preyed on by smaller fishes, which in turn attract larger predators like jacks (carangids) and barracudas.

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