July 24, 2012
When discussing potential projects for this internship with our professor, he suggested we balance out our terrestrial fieldwork with some scientific diving. Having all participated in the Guam and Palau scuba diving course, we were more than happy to dive whenever we could.
Prior to this summer, two Environmental Studies students, Laura Wang and Christine Sur, had established a seagrass monitoring project with David Ginsburg. The project aimed at measuring seagrass abundance to provide further information on the ecosystem health of Big Fisherman’s Cove. The seagrass is quantified using 50 meter transects along six headings that branch out from a single point. A quadrat is placed at ten-meter increments and the number of seagrass plants is recorded. Measurements have been taken on a monthly basis since October 2011. Last Thursday, we contributed to the seagrass monitoring project for the first time and obtained the measurements for July. It is surprising how such a simple method could reveal so much regarding the stability and health of a marine ecosystem. Although the seagrass is such an integral part of the ecosystem, there has not been significant research done on seagrass until this project was established last year. The original developers of the project have now graduated, and their work has been crucial to establishing a baseline that future Environmental Studies divers can build on in the future.
Over the past couple weeks of our internship, we have tried to complete at least one dive a week to improve our proficiency underwater. By now, we have become rather familiar with Big Fisherman’s Cove. But this summer has given us opportunities to explore dive sites farther than the cove, such as Habitat Reef, Pumpernickel, and Blue Caverns. We frequently encounter other divers and researchers around the dive lockers, many of them graduate students conducting their own research at Wrigley. One morning, we were able to dive with a graduate student and help with scrubbing cages underwater for his project working with gobies in the cove. It is always exciting to see all of the different people the USC Wrigley Campus attracts, be it graduate students, undergraduates such as ourselves, or middle school campers.
Thus far, this summer has presented us with amazing opportunities to scuba dive. We all share the same passion for diving, so it is extremely rewarding to be able to observe other dive researchers in addition to diving on our own, exploring new sites, and partaking in research projects such as seagrass monitoring.