Expedition update: Ribbon Reef 5

We carried out our first set of surveys at Ribbon No. 5 in the morning. The outer edge had many sandy patches and detached reefs in the shallows, so we had to be careful to stick to the main reef. Interestingly, along the top of the reef crest, near 7m in depth, there was a distinct boundary above which turf algae dominated, carpeting dead corals. Below this, the corals dominated. As we survey at 7-9m in depth we could feel the surge of the waves breaking onto the reef flat. We imagine that strong wave action may be the reason for the sparsity of corals in the shallows. We ended our day at Clam Gardens, a small patch reef located just south of Ribbon No. 5. Along the back reef, giant clams about 2m in size were seen in the shallows. Similar to corals, these clams rely on symbiotic photosynthesizing algae for energy but they can also filter feed. Another fun fact is that individual clams have a unique coloration and can live to over 100 years.