To start off my summer posts I had to let you all know that I finally have my new Malibu Two XL in hand after puchasing quite a few months ago. I am not your typical blog post I suppose as I won't ever have a reel n' line on my boat but hopefully I will have some intriguing stories to tell you about my research.
This summer, I will be looking at how the structure complexity and loss of top predators on patch reefs affect the local fish communities that depend on these nursery areas for refuge and foraging grounds. For my top predator, I will be using the presence and absence of Nassau grouper; they are threatened and locally exctinct in many areas of their native range. For my patch reefs, I will actually be using artificial reefs made of cinderblocks and PVC to mimic high branching coral patches versus globular patch reefs (i.e., high verse low structure complexity).
Earlier this week I took the kayak out (yet to be named) for my intial fish surveys and on 16 artificial reefs, I observed over 55 juvenile Nassau grouper. A fantastic start to my summer project.