Well, the MarineGEO team made it to Tasmania and back! As part of our ongoing monitoring of global coastal biodiversity we teamed up with researchers from the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) to conduct fish surveys, deploy food-web assays, and map rocky reef, seagrass, and sand habitats.
Our first stop was Rocky Cape in the north of Tasmania. Unfortunately, unfavorable winds kept us off the water most of the week and we were only able to pick on a single dive. Luckily, weather was better in the south, so we headed down to Tinderbox Bay and Dennes Point around Hobart and managed to get our first assay deployments and fish surveys. We did the MarineGEO standard Squidpop assay, Reef Life Survey fish and invert surveys, and an urchin tethering feeding experiment developed by our collaborator Scott Ling. We deployed both inside and outside marine reserves to see if we could get a signal of differential consumption among sites based on their conservation status.
Next we were off to gorgeous Maria Island, north of Hobart. Maria was once envisioned as an ‘ark’ for Australian species (in fact, the now extinct(?) Thylacine was supposed to be one of it’s first transplants), so many denizens of the Land Down Under can be found there including kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, tasmanian devils, and wombats (my favorite!) We managed to get in more deployments of our assays and conduct fish and invert surveys around the island. We even had a little time for some sight-seeing and saw the Fossil Cliffs, an ancient seabed chock-full of invertebrate fossils just a short walk from our cabin. The hillside was literally jam packed with preserved shells from millions of years ago. Quite a sight!
But our time finally came to an end and we left Maria to catch our flights home, a 30+ hour travel time from Tasmania to the East Coast of the US. Fortunately, that gave me time to whip up some rough graphs of Squidpop consumption and throw together a quick reel of video footage (scroll down to the bottom) from our travels. I’m definitely looking forward to going back Tassie. It’s terrific!