Expedition update: Osprey Reef

Still the wind continues blowing above 20knots! However it's nice and calm down at 40 meters, well below where the waves can reach, so working below is a welcome change for us. That's one of the things that makes the mesophotic or deep water coral reefs so different - it's so calm that the corals often grow with fine, fragile forms compared to their shallow-water cousins. We did another two dives into the mesophotic zone - most of us collecting small samples of corals for our studies but Kyra setting up her "HerbivoreCams". This consists of 10 small video cameras set on the reef at 40m (and 10m) which record the activity of herbivorous fishes in a series of "quadrats" or study sites. Herbivorous fishes have been found to be very important in shallow corals reefs - without them the reef can quickly become overgrown with marine algae. However in these mesophotic habitats no-one really knows if the same applies - given the low light perhaps herbivory is not so important to the reef health. Stay tuned! We also did some ROV dives today to collect some small samples of corals from the deeper mesophotic - from 60 to 100m depth. This is very exciting as this zone is argueably less explored than the surface of the moon so the chances of discovering new species is quite high. We found some very strange looking corals down there but they will need to be seen by the expert in this group of corals to see if they are new to science. We also used the robot to pick up some of the temperature and light logging equipment which we had deployed down deep two days ago.