Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Field Work = Best Work

What an incredible summer I was privileged to enjoy! Being in the field for the first time was nothing like I expected, but even more engaging and amazing than I could have ever hoped. If anything, it further solidified my desire to go to graduate school upon graduating from Clemson and pursuing marine ecology as a career!

The project I have been working on since joining the CMR team has been organizing and analyzing the photographic data taken of the coral transplants (as shown) from the 2013 study and the 2017 study during each quarter census of our field sites. These fragments were transplanted to discern how increasing sea surface temperature due to climate change affects bleaching rates and severity, as well as how algal competition for space and nutrients effect coral growth and survival. As fun as it is to use CPCe (Coral Point Count with Excel Extensions) and other Excel software to analyze factors like growth rate and algal cover in the lab, it was amazing to see everything come together by actually being in the environment with our coral fragments that I’d only ever seen on a computer screen. Pictured below is yours truly, holding the PVC frame with a GoPro camera attached to the top, which we used to place over the coral transplants and take photographs. During the time I was manning the camera, Kylie Smith also noted specific features about the coral and its surrounding environment, like algal presence, level of disturbance in the form of sand cover, and fish presence within the cage surrounding the coral.


This photographic data was then downloaded and organized to the shared folders where my team members and I are now analyzing it to use in this year’s poster presentation! We would like to investigate specific algae species presence around the coral transplants and determine their role in competition with corals, and if they are indicative of coral bleaching rates and severity. It is most definitely a unique experience to be this hands-on with coral reef restoration and marine science, and I am very appreciative for these opportunities! 

This was one of the many things the team and I did this summer, and if you would like to see more of what I was able to experience, please visit my Adobe Spark page: https://spark.adobe.com/page/YhUmvk5M34j87/

Also see this great footage Dr. Childress took of the different fish survey counts the team did!

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