Now I'm allowed in the water it has changed the whole dynamic for me here. I'm much happier for being able to go to the reef every day and I think I enjoy it more and more each time. There's something so exciting every time I go out because I notice new species, new behaviours and new details that weren't there before. In addition Bob, my supervisor from A Rocha UK, has come down for a few weeks to see how I'm doing and help me move forward. As a result I'm doing a lot of new things, like underwater transects and quadrants, which are darn sight harder in the water than on land!
I've also spread out and visited a lot more sites recently, including the reef crest, a good 2km swim from the beach. This beautiful sand bar marks the edge of the reef lagoon where big oceanic waves crash and the reef slopes gently into the inky depths, where coral and colour cease to be. Just off the reef crest is a very different dynamic to in the lagoon, with cooler and clearer water and obviously much rougher. As a result the fish species are quite different and so it was very exciting to stumble on a whole community of fish I didn't know.
Today Bob and I did a trip around a large portion of the park looking for patch reefs, as much of the park area isn't even mapped. Within this search we also went outside the park to the south over a channel leading from Mida Creek, where tons of water flows in rapid currents on the daily tides in and out the creek. On the other side of this current was an amazing patch reef with the best coral growth I'd ever seen (of course based on only Kenya and Costa Rica). There were much fewer fish than in the park, so fishing was taking its toll, but coral cover was much higher. This shouldn't be, because fish are theoretically supposed to prevent coral from being over grown by algae, so potentially something interesting is going on here, which people haven't studied yet! I certainly want to, just so I can spend time around those patch reefs. Stunning!
So in summary I'm becoming slightly addicted to the reef. The beautiful clusters of Acropora, the dainty butterfly fish and the confusing array of outrageously coloured wrasse. The other day I saw a baby angelfish, which have completely different markings to their parents and are even more outstanding than colourful elders. Even though I've seen them before, I was just as amazed by something as beautiful and, to my human sentiment, as precious as this little guy as the first time I saw one.
|Baby Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator)|