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Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Voyage of Discovery

With the weather thwarting our monitoring efforts, a trip was made to the Biosphere Reserve 18Km North of the Punta Gruesa base. There lies a ship wreck and a plethora of corals and fish not often encountered on our reefs outside the base, making it a perfect place to go spotting. Armed with cameras, many intrepid explorers made the journey, shovel and matting in the boot (although the Jeep pretends to be a 4x4, it’s not and tends to get stuck wherever possible so we have to be prepared!) to the location.

The wreck is a small, steel hulled cargo ship about 30m in length that rests on top of the reef almost all above the tide. It is surrounded by corals which would have been the vessels downfall causing it to wreck there 50 years ago (so a local fisherman told us). But now it provides a home for birds and fish, and also a substrate for more corals to colonise. Some of the less common species such as Siderastrea radians and Favia fragum are growing on the hull, along with anemones and gorgonians. The wreck also provides some sheltered areas in the shallow water behind the barrier reef where more fragile species can colonise. It is a fantastic location for snorkeling to get the EM’s up to scratch with identification of their species, particularly juvenile fish for the fishy folk. The wreck is an added bonus, but the corals and marine life make the trip very worthwhile, particularly when the weather isn’t playing ball for diving. The waves and current make it a nice workout, the drive up the single track ‘road’ is an experience in itself, but it was a pleasant day out on all accounts.