Live from the field, a series of posts about a volunteer living the dream as a marine biologist with Reef Check…

Day 1: 1000 photos in 2 dives
Location: Pos 1 & Wreck, Menjangan Island, Bali

We’ve traveled from the Reef Check headquarters to West Bali National Park in North Bali to start the first leg of a post coral bleaching survey. I’ve joined the Reef Check team as volunteer to survey 29 dive sites around Bali and Lombok over 2 weeks to determine the severity and extent of two coral bleaching events in 2009 and 2010 and how well (or how badly) the corals have coped. The survey will help paint a picture of how resilient the reefs here are to help scientists and managers determine which areas need help the most.

I’m not a Marine Biologist – today on the boat to Menjangen Island, I was a little nervous and apprehensive. I’ve been diving many times but this was my first scientific dive. Would I remember what to do?

Everyone in our team has a different task – identifying counting big fish, small fish, coral, etc. My job is to conduct the photo transect – each dive, I will take 468 photos of the coral along a very long measuring tape placed underwater at three and ten metres. The photos will be used to evaluate what makes up the reef at a particular depth – hard coral? soft coral? rubble? sand?

I descend and begin my dive….

It takes me a while but I start getting the hang of my task and build a rhythm. It’s a very different to fun diving – there’s a lot of concentration required.

It takes me a long time to complete the transect but I did it! We have lunch and our surface interval at the Menjangan jetty. I’m more relaxed the second dive, faster and enjoying what I’m doing. After the dive is over, I feel exhausted but have a great sense of satisfaction that I’m helping scientists to gather important data which will help protect coral reefs. I feel very lucky to be able to help out with the survey – it ‘s an amazing opportunity to learn first hand what marine conservation is all about. I’m excited for what tomorrow will bring. Stay tuned!

Sue Lyn Lim
Reef Check volunteer