This week end, we were happy to receive the Liger Marine Research Team, for the 4th time of 2018! This was the occasion for them to do the second session of survey, after the deployment of their artificial reef, one month ago.
They arrived on Thursday night, for a shorter stay than the last visit. This time, we had Thiny, Nilroath, Venghour, Sythong, and Rika, to complete the surveys. The three remaining members, Lux, Soliday and Kimseng were affected to other Liger projects for the week end.
The plan was simple. Be efficient, and finish the three replicates of the survey, and if possible, finish a 6m bamboo cluster. As always, everything went like planned, and as always when they come, the weekend was intense!
We started the surveys on the Friday morning, with Amick leading the fish survey, Carney for the invertebrates, and Tanguy with the substrates. This was our first visit to the structure since its deployment, one month ago. We were blown away.
When we deployed , there was no life at all, except some gobies (Gobiidae), bristle worms, and a few fish passing by, attracted by the movement of the sediments. It is located in a previously heavily trawled area, and literally looked like an underwater desert. But in one month, everything changed.
The blocks were full of life. On every replicate of the surveys, we were blown away by the newly acquired diversity and density of this previously barren landscape. A vast array of fishes were recorded eight-banded (Chaetodon octofasciatus) and ocellated butterflyfishes (Parachaetodon ocellatus), a school of catfish (Plotosidae) over 35 individuals, juveniles groupers (Serranidae), and a 1m long trevally (Carangidae), still to be identified, but most likely a golden one even 2 schools of pelagic fishes jacks (Carangidae) over 50 and Herring scads (Alepes vari) over 30 individuals. The Ligers also recorded and identified various invertebrates such as nudibranchs, crabs, shrimps not present in the area prior to the building of the artificial reef. Here are some pictures!
After three morning of survey, every member of the LMRT and MCC were amazed. Considering the results of our pilot structures, we knew that life would be attracted by the it, but in only one month, its life aggregation efficiency went way beyond our hopes.
This week-end was a full of hope for MCC, the Liger visit was more than successful, with a team getting better and better every time they go in the water. We are proud to see them improve their diving skills.
It was also a confirmation that the structures are more than needed. We will work hard to deploy them as soon and efficiently as possible, to create new possibilities for the marine life to shelter, knowing the first generation of Khmer marine scientist and conservationist is rising!