Expedition update: One Tree Island

Over the last two days, good weather has given us the opportunity to survey One Tree Island. Being a preservation zone, no form of fishing or recreational diving is allowed and all research requires a permit. Needless to say, we were excited to dip our heads underwater. We carried out two surveys, the first one located in the west that was most protected from cyclone Hamish in 2009. The second site was in the east, exposed to the destructive winds. We saw a reduction in the diversity of corals and macroalgae shifting from west to east; in the east table corals (Acropora hyacinthus) clearly dominated with a few beds of branching corals. A striking difference between this reef and the sites we surveyed at Heron were the enormous schools of not only reef fish, but of baitfish. As we moved along the reef slope, crevices of the reef were filled in with swarms of tiny fish, only to be disturbed by a sweeping Sweetlip.