Sharks and shoals - BIOT 2014 Expedition Day 15

by ZSL on

Today saw us sampling two quite different sites. The first, a steep drop off on the Oceanside of the atoll offered a shoal of baitfish that drew in a host of predators. Tuna, jacks and rainbow runners knifed through the shimmering curtain of tiny fish shoaling about them. All this action distracting us from our work on the reef below, apart from Heather and Melita who were kept busy trying to keep track of the various species taking part in the action. The second lagoonside site was teeming with big predators of a different sort. Grey Reef and Silvertip sharks cruised around us while a large gathering of sizeable Coral Trout kept track of us with their goggling eyes. Not the most comfortable of companions to share the reef with while trying to keep your head down and examining the corals below. Frequent glances upward with big eyes to match those of the trout...

Jacks; Tuna; hunting; baitfish
Jacks and Tuna hunting baitfish

Professionals that they are, the expedition crew scribbled down the data they needed and photographed various subjects of interest despite the finned ones swishing about. All of the information they gather needs to be recorded suitably for later use and it is this that really turns the days on expedition into long ones as people work late into the night to process all of the day’s gleanings. Anne has penned a couple of paragraphs to describe this work:

“For every hour-long dive there are many more hours of work, from the preparation of different recording materials to assembling the data collected.  The first stage of this is the recording of all the various measures that have been made, from fish biomass numbers through various coral records to data logger readouts. This is done each evening on the ship, transcribing from underwater slates or prepared sheets of underwater writing paper onto various computer spreadsheets, databases and the like.

On return to our various home institutions the analyses begin. But that is in the future for us at the moment, now we are concentrating on collecting all the necessary information; from the data needed to the data that just might be needed, as getting out here is so difficult and expensive and we don't want to miss anything out.”

Select a blog

Artefact of the month

Every month one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the month.

Arts and Culture

Follow the latest news on ZSL’s Arts & Culture projects at ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos, and ZSL’s conservation work through the lense of the Arts.

Asia Conservation Program

Get the latest on ZSL's conservation work in Asia.

Conservation

Catch up on our latest Conservation Blogs

Discovery and Learning in the Field

Join the ZSL Discovery and Learning team as they venture out of the zoo and in to the wild.

Elephantastic!

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's elephant keepers give an insight into the daily goings on in the elephant barn.

Tiger conservation

Read about conservation of tigers in Asia.

Videographer Blog

One man is boldly going where no other ZSL videographer has gone before - the land of Mountain Chicken Frogs.

ZSL London Zoo

A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo. Bringing you amazing animal facts and exclusive access to the world's scientific oldest zoo.

Wild Science

From the field, to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.

Wildlife Wood Project Cameroon

The Wildlife Wood Project has been working in Cameroon since 2007 to encourage better wildlife management in logging concessions.

Penguin expedition blog

Updates from penguin conservation expeditions to Antarctica

Amur Leopard

Amur leopard conservation blog

Baby Giraffe Diaries

Meet ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's latest (and leggiest) arrival, a baby giraffe!

Biodiversity and Palm Oil

Follow the ZSL Biodiversity and Palm Oil team, based in Bogor, Indonesia.

Chagos Expedition

The Chagos marine reserve, designated in 2010 and currently the world’s largest no take marine reserve, is a sought-after spot for marine research.

Frog Blog

Follow ZSL’s amphibian experts in their quest to find out why 41% of the world’s amphibians are threatened and what can be done to stop more species becoming extinct.

Tsaobis Baboon Blog

Follow ZSL conservationists studying desert baboons in Namibia.