USYD visits Heron Island Research Station

We’ve just returned from an exciting weeklong mixed undergraduate (GEOS3009) and masters (MARS5006/7) field trip to Heron Island Research Station (One Tree’s neighbour) in the Capricorn Bunker Group of the Great Barrier Reef. This was led by Jody Webster, Selma Klanten, Jak McCarollBelinda Dechnik, Kelsey SanbornMadhavi Patterson, Kenny Wolfe and Roberta Johnson. In between our frequent group snorkels, boat excursions, reef walks and applying Betadine to our numerous coral cuts, we managed to conduct various research projects around the reef, including:

  • Deploying Pressure Transducers to measure wave parameters around the channel, which was paired with sediment grain size analysis
  • Constructing new homemade drifters from scratch and deploying these in the channel to understand the impact of the bund wall on current patterns
  • Comparing the windward (high-energy) vs. leeward (low-energy) distribution and abundance of both the “Spotted Dick” (S. hermanni) sea cucumbers and of free-living Fungiidae corals
  • Investigating the difference between the modern coral communities that compose the windward and leeward reef crests
  • Observing the distribution of Damsel fish on various associated substrates
  • Collecting sediment samples across two transects from the reef crest to beach to examine sediment composition and foraminifera distribution

As mentioned in the last post by Ana, thankfully Heron Reef has still only minimally been affected by the widespread coral bleaching epidemic that has spread across (predominantly) the northern GBR. Check out the photo gallery below to see what it’s like to study coral reefs in the field with the GRG.

Kelsey & Madi

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