October marked an exciting month for Memorial University (MUN) and the local dive community in Newfoundland, Canada. Our enthusiastic and diverse team of divers, formed around Dr Amanda Bates, a Canadian Research Chair at MUN, has launched the Canadian branch of Reef Life Survey.
After jumping some hurdles such as learning to dive in a dry suit in 7°C water, we were finally ready for our workshop with Dr Rick Stuart-Smith in October, and conducted our first exciting surveys. A team of 8 divers assembled for a week of survey fun, including PhD students, MUN’s highly valued and skilled team of union divers and even a dedicated ‘West-coaster’, who came over from Vancouver just for this workshop.
As we explored different sites, we quickly learned that it wasn’t going to be species diversity that would give us headaches. It was species abundance; more specifically Green Sea Urchin (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis) abundance. They are everywhere, and we counted several thousand that week. Once we overcame the initial shock of the new urchin world-order, we were delighted by the playful Cunners (Tautogolabrus adspersus), Seastar piles and the particularly stunning rock wall dive right outside our laboratory.
After our week of training, and with the great support we have received locally, we are ready to put Canada on the map for Reef Life Survey.