Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Almost on the Equator

We've been here in Kapingamarangi for two days, and it's been so good we decided to spend one more day before we leave.  The atoll is nearly circular, with only one small channel entrance into the lagoon.  We went in yesterday morning to meet the acting chief and village elders, and learned that the area we were targeting for large corals, just inside the channel, was the right place to look.  One particularly huge colony was striking for its size and clean shape [Note Whitney swimming near the bottom for scale].  While I was underwater before starting to drill a core, I felt like I was touching the heartbeat of the ocean.  This is the site where the West Pacific climate pattern with a 100+ year beat is strongest, and this coral was the largest and oldest we saw.  It's been recording that beat for hundreds of years, and it kind of looks like a heart.  As I knelt on top, I was feeling a little overwhelmed and extremely grateful for the opportunity to be here.

Tomorrow we will finish coring, and the survey and tissue sampling teams will complete their work as well.  There has been almost no coral disease noted here, and we've seen lots of big fish, including many sharks and a few manta rays!  After we finish up, we'll go back to the village to say goodbye.  Everyone will get to come, and I hope it will turn into a big celebration.  We'll write about that in the next day or so, so stay tuned..


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