August 2 – More lectures, an afternoon training dive, as well as the first night dives!

Brooder and dolphin lectures

This morning started with a lecture of Bob Snowden about brooders. He explained why it’s useful to work with them, which Caribbean / Atlantic species are of interest and how they can be collected.
Later this week, Bob will give a workshop ‘Brooders and techniques’  so participants can learn hands-on how to do this.

Valérie Chamberland continued with a short presentation about a brooder experiment on zooxanthellae (the symbiontic algae that live in the coral tissue) which she will carry out during this workshop. She explained what research she will do and how the participants can help her with this. She further gave information about the program and the workshops which will be given the coming days. Everyone gets the chance to experience the various stages of the reproduction process, with the spawning dives, laboratory shifts, brooder workshops, exhibit workshops and outplanting workshops.

When Valérie was done, George Kieffer of the Curacao Dolphin Academy arrived. As our guest speaker, he continued with a lecture about Dolphins, and shared some interesting insights about their biology and behaviour. He showed various arresting videos demonstrating the research done on these fascinating mammals.

Training dive at Spanish Waters

The chef of Augusto’s prepared us again a nice nutricious lunch after which we were good to go again. This time, the whole group went together for a dive at the Spanish Waters site. The water was nice and calm with only a slight surge, so it was an excellent opportunity for all divers to train with the spawning nets. Bob Snowden and Kim Stone demonstrated on some dead Elkhorn corals how the nets should be handled and placed over the coral branches without damaging them. They also showed how to replace the collecting tubes without losing or damaging the gametes. Then, all participants got the chance to try it themselves. Some of them did really well, even though it was their first time using these nets!

Adjusting last year’s coral spawning nets

As we mentioned before, this year we have new coral spawning nets which are slightly adjusted to improve the usability. However, the nets we used last year during the workshop were left on Curacao. They still needed to be adapted to the new configuration. So, right before dinner, everybody joined to work on the nets and before we knew it, al 20 were done!

First night dive at Spanish Waters and the Sea Aquarium

After a quick dinner, the group split up for the night dives. One half would explore the Sea Aqaurium reef, the other half would go to the Spanish Waters site again. As expected, there was no spawning yet, so we all could get used to the dive sites by night in a relaxed atmosphere.

Though at the Sea Aquarium site the surge was a little bit stronger than at the Spanish Waters site, this night dives might have been the most easy one of the week, since a tropical storm is heading towards this region. Curacao most of the times does not get hit, but there might be more wind the coming days, causing more challenging dive conditions. We keep our fingers crossed that the weather doesn’t influence the spawning negatively, but we just have to wait and see!

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