I am currently living in paradise!
I am volunteerng in Raja Ampat which is part of the coral triangle, and here, the fish and coral diversity is the highest on earth.
I am mostly helping with counting the fish species in different areas and, helping with manta ray spotting and identification.
…But there are so many other incredible things to see when diving!
On one of my very first dives I was lucky enough to see a swimming wobbegong! Despite the fact that they look a bit like a rug, they are actually sharks. You can tell because they have 5 gill slits.
Usually they spend most of their time lying flat and looking inconscipious. They have tassels on their faces to complete the disguise. I had only ever seen them on TV so I was super excited to see it in real life.
As part of the science dives, it important to be able to ID many different species of fish. One group of fish that I have been studying lots this week are the butterfly fish. They are all yellow, white and black. There are 42 species for me to learn and they all look the same!
It helps to look out for features such as spots to work out who is who. For example, this one is a black lips butterfly fish. And this one is an eastern triangle.
They are important to study because they are a what is called an indicator species. They have a long snout and they eat coral. So, by working out the numbers of butterfly fish in the area, you can assess the health of the reef.
Another type of fish that is a good idea to look out for on coral reefs are the trigger fish. These guys often have a trigger shaped fin. I saw this amazing school of them flying above me on my dive yesterday. but I also found another reason to keep an eye out for them. I saw this titan trigger fish having a bite to eat and decided to go in for a closer look. I soon learnt that triggerfish also have very large teeth and can be very protective so I backed away quickly!
I am so lucky to be here, and get to dive pretty much every day. There are so many more awesome species to discover!