Ocean Media Institute - Expedition Nautilus: Figi

DWhatley

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Second installment for The Search for the Nautilus Egg Nat Geo Open Explorer Expedition

Bula Vinaka!
Our team is here in Suva, Fiji after the normal "fun" of traveling across the world to get here - wonderful airplane food, better pillows, and even better sleep! Followed by a 4 hour bus ride, although the scenery along the coast of Viti Levu (Fiji's largest island) is incredible! Day 1 Goals:

  • Meet with colleagues Ministry of Fisheries to check on gear
  • Meet with Department of Environment officials
  • Meet with colleagues at University of South Pacific to finalize logistics of nautilus holding aquariums
  • Make a gear list for the next day
  • Get some REST!
All of the above was accomplished, more or less, and we have a good plan in place for a successful expedition all around! Moce mada!
 

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Laucala Bay, Suva, Central, Fiji - Day 2 of The Search for the Nautilus Egg

Day 2 - Suva, Fiji
Bula! We are collaborating with the University of South Pacific (USP) on this project and today, were at work setting up the holding aquariums for the nautiluses. These are perfect sized aquariums to use for this project! We will be holding the nautiluses in the aquarium on the left, so we will be adding a chilling unit to it. The other two aquariums will be to make up saltwater for water changes. Pretty good setup we have here! We also worked on the logistics of boat use and finding some remaining miscellaneous gear items... the most lucky to find was the perfect sized powerhead pump and the perfect sized tubing to fit on it in the only aquarium store in Suva. It's almost like it was meant to be!!! Tonight we will be meeting additional faculty, staff, and students at USP to learn about some of their projects and share the work we will be doing. Tomorrow, it's time to work on finalizing the nautilus traps and if we are lucky, get them in the water tomorrow.
 

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The Search for the Nautilus Egg

Days 3-4: Rugby, Mangroves, and Tidepooling!The last two days have been slow going. We have prepared pretty much everything that we can in the lab to be ready for nautiluses. Now, just going through the logistics of finalizing our traps and boats... In the mean time, we enjoyed some rugby where the Flying Fijians beat the Maori All Blacks in a wonderfully, fun game! Then, we headed out to a local beach for some tidepooling and walked around some magnificent mangroves. Oh, and the restroom artwork was PHENOMENAL!!! (of course it was a nautilus!) But, the fun starts tomorrow as we will be setting our nautilus traps!!! Moce mada!
View the full expedition on Open Explorer
Thank you,

Your Open Explorer team
 
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DWhatley

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The Search for the Nautilus Egg

Observation:
Day 5: Trap in the Water!! We managed to get one trap in the water today!!! We baited it with raw chicken and tossed it off the boat to sink down to nautilus depths. Now, we wait and see what is in the trap tomorrow... Well, first we wait and make sure our trap is there in the morning and we get our gear back. A wise captain told me years ago that you should just be happy to get your gear back first, then worry about what is inside of it. The ocean is a rough place to work... Each trip is similar but so different in many ways. Nautilus research rarely is a cookie cutter expedition at each location, even at the same location but different times. In a weirdly, frustrating (sometimes) way, that is what makes this kind of work so unique and simply awesome. It is going to be hard to sleep tonight waiting for tomorrow so that we can pull our trap up!!!
View the full expedition on Open Explorer
 

DWhatley

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The Search for the Nautilus Egg
Observation:
Day 6: NAUTILUSES!!!Breakfast at 700am. Taxi to boat dock at 730am. Stop and get ice and chicken at 745am. Board the boat at 820am. Head out to sea at 830am. Search for buoys... and... and... we found them at about 840am. Start pulling up the trap at 845am -- and by pulling up, I mean hand over hand/heave-ho pulling up -- which takes about 35-40 minutes. With the trap up at about 920am, what do we see? TWO NAUTILUSES!!!! Such great news! Now, quickly get nautiluses out of the cage around 925am. Into cold-water aquarium on boat at 930am. Reset the trap with new chicken bait at 935am. Head to the university with the nautiluses at 945am. Place nautiluses in cold-water aquariums at about 955am. And take a deep breath and relax a bit! Well, not really. Make some adjustments to the aquariums. Monitor the nautiluses. Process the nautiluses and take shell diameter, shell width, weight, sex, maturity, photographs, and any other notes on each specimen. Then, relax a bit. Nope! Lunch, then back to Fisheries to ready next trap and find some more fishing rope along the way. Then get fuel for the boat, more chicken bait for the second trap to deploy, and head back out to sea. Toss trap overboard. Head back in to finally relax. Nope!! Haha. One more run for fuel for the morning. Then to the university to check on the nautiluses and test water quality. THEN, for some dinner and now to bed. Great day!
View the full expedition on Open Explorer
 

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