Diane and I went to the Marshall Islands with the goal of locating corals that would make good candidates for climate records. At Arno, this involved three dives per day for five days. That’s a lot of time underwater, especially since each dive was roughly an hour long. Though Diane was unfortunately unable to dive with us until the last day, I was lucky enough to dive with Kalena de Brum, who works for the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority, instead. She has a sharp eye for hidden wonders underwater!
Simon and Sara identify, measure, and photograph corals along a transect at each site. Kalena and I swim in the general area of each transect, scouting for corals. We’re looking for corals of the genus Porites, which you might know as lobe coral. The ideal Porites for sampling is a solid, tall mound, without any bore holes from clams or worms.
Good Porites, as it turns out, are really hard to find. When we spot one, I note its size, depth, and condition, and my dive buddy takes pictures.
Since it’s impractical to bring meter sticks along with us, I pose in the pictures for scale. I’m exactly five-foot-twelve, and I know the length of my arms, so I become a useful unit of measurement. There are probably a hundred pictures of me in these various Superman poses.
Some sites have a higher abundance of Porites than others. At the low-Porites sites, my buddy and I will often help Sara and Simon with their transects by collecting data on coral morphology.
On rare occasions, though, we still finish early, and have a brief chance to observe the wildlife around us. There’s plenty to see!