7: Bahamas 2013 | Trip Two Begins with Dolphins

2013 Bahamas Expedition | Round Two
Emma is a former Giant Ocean Tank Dive Intern on her first Spring Collection Expedition. She joined Aquarium divers in the Bahamas to help collect fish, under special permits, so that visitors in Boston can appreciate the splendor of a healthy Caribbean reef.  After a top-to-bottom transformation, the Giant Ocean Tank is expected to reopen in early summer with more than twice the number of fish than last fall. 

Day One: Today was the first full day of the second Spring 2013 Collection Expedition! This group of SCUBA divers, led by Sherrie Floyd (a senior aquarist at the New England Aquarium) will sail around the Bahamas to collect fish for the new Giant Ocean Tank (GOT). This centerpiece exhibit is currently undergoing a huge renovation and the fish we collect from Bimini will be the first new inhabitants!

A dolphin off the bow of the RV Coral Reef II.

This morning we awoke around 6am aboard the RV Coral Reef II, led by Captain Lou and Co-Captain Dave. As we took off to the open ocean towards Bimini and waved goodbye to Miami, a dolphin appeared at the bow!

Goodbye Miami!
Hello Bahamas!

After arriving in the Bahamas, we quickly got ready for our first dive at a shallow wreck called the Sapona. Wrecks are fantastic dive sites because they serve as a substrate on which coral polyps grow and entire reefs develop. Over time, entire underwater communities develop around these wrecks. The Sapona is home to large schools of fish, barracuda, southern stingrays and more. Many of these same species can also be found in the Giant Ocean Tank!

The Sapona | Photo credit: Liz Duquette

Jumping in for our first dive!

A school of grunts near the wreck.
Look for a southern stingray near the hull of the wreck at the bottom of the picture.
(Check out the Southern stingray in the GOT in this video!)
Our first dive was a checkout dive, to get everyone comfortable with their gear and diving in the Bahamas. As soon as we all had our sea legs, the fun began! We grabbed nets and started collecting. It was a bit harder than I expected, but my buddy and I managed to catch a longspine squirrelfish (Holocentrus rufus). Unfortunately for us, the last trip had already met the quota for this species and we had to put it back. What a lucky fish!

The fish we catch are taken to the surface and placed in holding tanks all over the boat, where the staff care for them.

Collection tanks | Photo credit: Bill Murphy

The main collection tanks | Photo credit: Bill Murphy

By showing visitors the beauty of a healthy Caribbean reef, we hope to inspire visitors to do what they can to protect these reefs and marine habitats around the world. Dive into the New Aquarium Experience, coming early this summer!

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