Notes from Florida

Okay, seems like I should blog about my recent field trip to Florida first, and the rest just have to wait till later!

Met my labmates a couple of Sundays ago to drive down to Key Largo from Wilmington on a cold frosty morning at 6am. 15 hours later, the socks, gloves, scarf and sweaters were off and we were in warm and balmy Florida!

Look at the sky!

We stayed in a really nice apartment, which we had to share with the US Navy, so 5 of us squeezed into one bedroom. The condo was situated above a small lab and dive facility, with the boat right in the backyard, docked in the canal leading out to the sea. How luxurious!

Couldn't dive on the first day due to windy conditions at sea, so we stayed in to sort out gear, make larval traps out of nylon stockings and vexar, and Susanna, Sven and myself took Tim's car out to various marinas to look for a particular tunicate.

How you look for tunicates

While we were facedown on the floating pontoon looking for a tunicate shaped like a potato, Susanna suddenly got very excited. There were dolphins in the bay in front of us! They were feeding as currents brought fish out to sea during the tidal changeover, and some of them got really close- like 10m away from us! Abandoning all thoughts of tunicates, we watched them corral and chase fish for the next 45min.

The next day we had an all-clear- we were going out diving! The waves were still pretty high...such that I couldn't bring myself to eat my sandwich! Was a relief to hit the water. I was really excited as my first dive was to visit the underwater lab Aquarius, or as they call it here- the Habitat. Have read a lot about it- a research facility located 15m underwater on top of a coral reef. So cool! Tim was setting up some larval traps for his Callyspongia specimens, and was helping him out with them.


Looking through the porthole

The gazebo. Check out the huge barracuda in front! It's often found lurking there.

We went for a bit of a swim around after work. Lots of fish and other fauna to be found around the Habitat. Here's the entrance! You can poke your head out into air and talk to your buddy 18m underwater :).

Larval traps

It was rather chilly underwater, about 26degC. Was glad I brought my neoprene rashguard along, even though it felt really constricted when I first put it on under my wetsuit! My labbies said they've seen better, but the waters were so clear! >10m, and you can see the reef from the surface, plus, you can actually swim back to the dive platform just by looking for the boat underwater!

More in a while!


Papa Jeff said…
I've heard of the Aquarius ... soo exciting!!
Applecow said…
yeahhh!!! so exciting!!!!

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