08/14/02 - Lionfish!
Liz had a fantastic dive during the afternoon of August 13. She saw more than 60 species of fish while down in the submersible. She also saw three lionfish, which are a venomous non-native species. Although they are pretty, these species have the potential to cause great harm to this environment. The fish looked a great deal like ones she saw during the museum's trip to Belize, Central America.
Liz found it to be much warmer in the stern compartment of the sub during this trip, as compared to her previous dives, because the research team did not dive as deep. Cruising underwater with the schools of fish was really a magical experience.
We used dip nets to catch fish from over the side of the boat last night. We caught several flying fish, as well as a fish called a halfbeak. Halfbeaks have a long lower jaw and a short upper jaw that makes them look like they have half of a beak. The sub is getting ready to go down. Time to go and watch the process!
We spent last night dip netting over the side of the boat. We were trying to catch the fish that came close to the lights we had affixed to the railing of the ship. One group caught several flying fish and the other group saw a baby loggerhead turtle! We then moved on to our next dive site. Scientists Ken Sulak and Fritz Rohde spent the morning about 200 feet below the surface. They saw some great fish and added lots of images to the video files. They also documented a fish that had only been seen out here once before-on last year's mission. It was good to see it again and prove that it was not just an accidental sighting. A fish we did not want to see again was here, too-the lionfish. This non-native appears to be well-established in this area.
The Neuston Net pulled around lunch brought up some interesting disc shaped "critters." These things were round and looked like slices of tree branches. They were soft underneath. We are not really certain what they might be-perhaps broken part of brittle stars? Something related to jellyfish? Perhaps some other kind of echinoderm? We need a different field guide to identify them.
This afternoon scientist Steve Ross and John McDonough from NOAA headed out in the sub to a new site. We are hoping to document the diversity of species found out here along the edge. So far it sounds as if they are having a good dive. They will not return to the ship until after this e-mail goes out. If all goes according to plan, we should have some visitors come out to see us tomorrow. We look forward to showing them around the labs and the ship.
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