We got up bright and early again today for a grunt roundup! Basically, we find a large school of grunts and five of us surround it and move in slowly. The grunts form a tighter and tighter ball until suddenly they explode outward – and hopefully our nets are there to catch some of them. We usually end up with one or two people having one or two grunts in their nets – on one especially successful swipe I ended up with SIX grunts in my bag. In an amazing show of team spirit, everyone gathered around me kneeling on the sandy bottom to help hold open collection bags, and even stabilize me when the surge picked up.
|A school of grunts|
Later, a group of participants headed to a rocky outcropping to collect terrestrial hermit crabs for Randi, a scientist at the Aquarium working with hermit crab shell selection. There are about a hundred of them and they are easy keeps – just a little cap full of water and a dollop of peanut butter!
|Hey, what's in the bucket?|
|Terrestrial hermit crabs|
I did another invertebrate dive later in the day, but as I was in search of small crawly things I spotted a barred hamlet – one of the fish that is high on our wish list. I did not have any nets, just my poker stick (for getting into small holes) which I used to bang on my tank to hopefully get someone’s attention. Divers started turning towards me seamlessly in all directions taking their positions. I pointed at the hamlet – I swear you could almost hear the Ride of the Valkyries as divers and nets came together like a well choreographed dance.
Jim Duffey and Dave Wedge move in
I was struck with just how well we all work as a team. It is really a testament to the character of the staff and participants on this trip – everyone is so friendly and willing to work together, there is not a feeling of competition but of camaraderie. When the barrel comes up with our catch from the dive, everyone gathers around like kids on Christmas waiting to see what we got. No fish or invertebrate is too small for commendation.
Speaking of size – we see cool critters of all shapes and sizes on these dives. This last one we saw a giant barracuda on the way back to the boat, and I spotted a pea-sized juvenile trunkfish hiding in his hole! He’s the little yellow blorp with brown spots.
Dave and a Barracuda
A tiny juvenile trunkfish in its hole
Tomorrow is the last day of collecting – I can't believe it, the trip has flown by!