Blog written by: Marilyn Connell, 2018 FOR Guam summer intern
Friends of Reefs (FOR) Guam’s summer internship has just begun and we’ve learned so much already! Our intern project entails piloting algal removal and monitoring potential sites for community coral gardening on Guam.
Our pre-internship training included an extensive CPR and first aid course, such as learning how to use an AED (automated external defibrillator). Our first in-water training session for coral reef monitoring was very overwhelming with snorkeling, surveying, and recalling information from training as well as dealing with water conditions (we experienced some current). Luckily, the first official day of the internship was a pool session that helped us enhance our surveying skills in the water and troubleshoot other issues before field work began. We worked on submerging and clearing our snorkels and using the surveying equipment in the water without the added worry of dealing with a current.
Week one was all about baseline surveys for our Merizo sites. Our work included using the GPS unit to find our sites, laying transects, and then conducting benthic and macroinvertebrate surveys at our control and experiment sites. You can read up on survey methods here. The most common things we found on benthic surveys were sand, Porites genus corals, and turf algae. Many types of sea cucumbers, sea stars and even sea urchins were found in our macroinvertebrate surveys.
We ended the week with algal removal on/around coral colonies. Hopefully, this will help corals grow as more space is cleared from fast-growing algae. This was a trial-and-error process since removing brown and red algae took much more time than anticipated. We all thought it would take about 15 minutes and in reality, it took about 45 minutes to clear 25×2 meters. Our catch bags used collect removed algae stirred up sediment, adding time to the algal removal process. Our solution was to use floating buckets instead of dragging our catch bags to make algal removal easier. Stay tuned to see if it worked!