my photoquadrat was finally finished by monday, so we went to Sharp Island on tuesday to collect the data. turbidity was high due to huge amounts of rain this past weekend, but we decided the photos would be good enough to quantify coral cover, and identify species at least down to the genus level. two of the sites i was planning on sampling from were way too muddy to take any photos, because they are both in small, protected bays off the shore of mangrove habitats, meaning that there is a freshwater input, and therefore higher levels of sediment than at the other 3, more exposed sites. we will be going back to the island on monday to take photos of those last two sites.
in the lab today, i found identifying the corals to be a piece of cake! there really is not much diversity at all, so after learning to spot the dominant species, the rest was pretty easy. i actually got through analyzing all the photos we have so far! this is good news, given that i have so little timeleft. i really was worried i wouldnt have time to finish the study before i leave, but now it looks like its going to be possible (with some hard work and long days!). i also finished making depth profiles for each transect at each site, which are actually so helpful in getting a visual on the environment. in doing so, i noticed a very interesting, very strong correlation between certain depths, and species richness of coral, that i want to look into further, as i believe it may be an important controlling factor in their growth. im currently downloading a 30-day trial of Adobe Illustrator on to my computer in order to create a grid that i can superimpose onto each photo, to make it easier to quantify percent cover of coral in each photo.
all in all, a great day, and i am very excited to finally be able to get my hands on the data!