Sunday, November 22, 2009

CMR in the Keys

Over Fall Break, Clemson's Conservation of Marine Resources team traveled to the Florida Keys and asked the question, "Does Structure Increase Biodiversity?" We had several sample locations including the Keys Marine Lab, Long Key, and Bamboo Key. Data was collected at these sites and we were looking at the types of algae, coral, sponge, and invertebrates found. This was a great hands-on experience to learn what organisms are actually living in our coral reefs. While doing work we would occasionally come across a Jellyfish or a Nurse Shark, making the experience all the more exciting.

The best day I had was when the group decided to go diving / snorkeling at Looe Key. For a lot of people it was their first time being out surrounded by the deep blue color of the ocean. After our dive briefing we literally jumped right in. Immediately when we reached the bottom we saw two Grouper behaving in an unorthodox way. Maybe competing over territory, or a female? We weren't sure. Continuing we saw lots and lots of coral, several kinds of grunts, hogfish, snapper, grouper, barracuda, parrotfish, spiny lobsters, and an eel. The eel was awesome. It was close to five feet long and was just chillin' in its hole as we passed by. I was also very excited when I spotted a Brittle Star crawling along the bottom, one of my favorite echinoderms.

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