[Coral-List] Arno "Elkhorn" rescue
atolldino at yahoo.com
Fri Apr 6 06:40:54 EDT 2012
12 divers (almost all expats and yachties) and 6 snorkelers (including one of my students who earned extra credit and had a wonderful expereience!) collected 45 COTS on a night dive plagued by the full moon, so most of the animals were hiding. The extreme vertical relief was logistically daunting (lots of in and out swimming, pulling cumbersome bags).. But we lucked onto the first calm, glassy weather of the year! This morning (our Friday) we only had time to snorkel, the boat was due back in Majuro (we could have collected another 50-100 by day). I discovered that the giant 3 meter Leptoria colony had been attacked some days ago (a few % was killed) by an Acanthaster, which got my blood boiling. I donned a tank and checked it out. The perpetrator was long gone, but I did collect a further 14 medium to large COTS on adjacent shallow Acorpora colonies (very difficult to remove, wedged between coral tiers), guided by a school of
snorkelers. On this reef, each diver needs 4 or 5 spotter swimmers.
I installed one coral-suspension line, with float, and attached a few fragments, it looks very strong. I am awaiting the delivery of more hardware, to secure the cable ties onto the monofilament line, there are many more coral fragments to rescue. By luck I installed the line in a groove that harbors two or three rare suviving Acropora colonies (not the classic angular "elkhorn" morphology but quite close) which I will monitor closely (no recent feeding scars were too close). We will do subsequent dives as close to new moon as possible. I think we can make a difference here, we were not too late!
I was told this week that after a world tour on a megayacht, a mega-rich couple was taken to dive this Arno reef, and commented that is was the best they had seen in Micronesia. I will post youtube videos soon (atolldino channel, or google youtube Arno Arno) and a Flickr photoset.
I am very grateful for DOI funding that made the trip possible. Thanks for the helpful suggestions in recent weeks.
College of the Marshall Islands
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