We’ve made it! After nearly two weeks in Jakarta and Makassar, I have arrived at my first fieldwork site in Indonesia: Lembeh Strait. I am getting help from Luke: a good friend, great photographer and all-round science hobbit. We are based in Lembeh Resort, where we are diving with Critters@Lembeh. Besides doing research for my PhD, Luke and me will also help the divecentre by surveying their housereef and creating a custom nudibranch-guide for it. We might even do some work on their artificial reefs as well to make it even more attractive to the local critters.
We will be in Lembeh Resort for about 6 weeks, so right now we’ve only just gotten comfortable in our new accommodation (If you are a scientist who does fieldwork as well, you might want to skip the next paragraph to avoid getting overly jealous) Our room is pretty sweet, it overlooks the Strait and part of the resort. We’ve got desks and WiFi, plenty of space for equipment and we’ve even got hot water in the shower! Absolutely luxury! What is (arguably) even more important, is that we’ve got the housereef at our doorstep, it’s the full 5m away from where we set up our divegear.
At the moment we are exploring the reef to decide where we can set up our experiments, and to see where the most interesting areas are. It’s not a pure black sand site, but has got some corals and even seagrass as well. We’ve already found some very nice nudibranchs, ribbon eels, scorpionfish and a baby cockatoo waspfish. Tonight we’re doing a nightdive to check out what the housereef looks like with fluorescence torches. With some luck I’ll post some very psychedelic pictures in the next post…
For those interested in the socio-economic study I am doing, I have written an article for Wetpixel.com, an underwater photography site. It gives some background about why I want to know the economic value of muck diving critters, and why this has been done previously for other animals such as sharks and manta rays. It also has a link to my popular critter survey, if you haven taken the survey yet, now is the time to do so!