Sea Save BLOG

Sea Save Foundation: Cocos Island Expedition Journal – Dec 17 2008

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It’s hard to believe that today is the half-way point of this expedition. We’ve only learned this evening that the communications that were sent over the past few days have not been received. We hope that this can be resolved quickly so that the messages don’t have to wait until our return. Even with today’s modern conveniences and satellite systems, where we are is so remote that many of the daily things that we take forgranted are difficult. To make matters even more difficult almost half of the expedition crew has become sick with a cold or flu.

The relative trend in large animal activity from yesterday has unfortunately not continued at the southern and eastern dive sites visited today. In almost all cases, the sightings have been very brief and the animals have been near the far edges of visibility.
Thankfully, still no signs of fishing boats in the area. However, at “Shark Fin Rock,” the most southern dive site at the island, a large portion of the dive was spent untangling and removing longline fishing line. Even with sharp knives, it is very difficult to cut through it. In many areas, it becomes so wrapped around coral heads that it takes quite a bit of coordination and patience to remove the line without further damage…especially in areas of surge or current. In some cases, the lines have completely broken off sections of coral. It’s a clear example of how the lines continue to injure the ecosystem long after they’ve stopped attracting fish to baited hooks. Even with several teams working together with the lines we know that we left quite a bit behind. We’ll continue to work at removing the lines if the dive conditions there are calm enough over the next few days.
As mentioned in a previous posting, Ginger Garrison, author of Isla Del Cocos Fishes has been a great resource and inspiration to have people find and photograph as many different fish species as possible on the dives. It’s quite likely that several photos from this expedition will be used to update the new edition of the book and educate and train legions of visitors to the area. A couple of the more uncommon species sighted included both tiger snake eels and freckled snake eels as well as a lone Cocos batfish. We also managed to get a video of a no-holds-barred territorial fight over an empty barnacle shell between two Cocos barnacle blennies!