Today is a "down day" in Aquarius.... that means there are no visitors, no top-side boats bringing pots of gear down to us, but it is not a down day for us down here! We are busy out in the water trying new things out and perfecting our research.
This morning we played around with The Edgertronic high speed camera, trying to capture high definition, high speed images while in the water. It is really tricky to do because the screen for the camera is inside the habitat. So Fabian has to tell us where to move the camera to get the perfect image. Even though it is tricky, we were able to capture some incredible footage of Christmas Tree Worms pulling into their shells.
We spent a couple of hours this morning getting familiarized with the sponge species that live around the reef. We will be collecting sample from 14 different sponge species out on the reef. It is vitally important that we are 100% sure about the species we are collecting. We will be taking samples about the size of a pea and bringing them back to Boston with us to hand over to the Ocean Genome Legacy at Northeastern University. They are then going to process the samples and add the DNA to their catalog.
As you can see there were some sponges that we were unsure about... we made sure to take pictures of these individuals so we could go back and look at them later. Out of the 14 species, we got about 8 positively ID-ed and photographed. I call that a success!