Last week Dr Suzanne Palmer and Dr Mike Burn headed to Discovery Bay Marine Lab, north coast of Jamaica to meet up with a group of geoscientists from Penn State University and to do some diving on the reefs.
The lab was founded in 1965 by Professor Thomas Goreau. The reefs in Jamaica were made famous by his pioneering work on coral reef zonation and geomorphology. The research lab was opened after his death in 1970 (http://www.uwimona.edu.jm/cms/dbml.htm). As the main lab in Jamaica supporting marine research it is ideally located right at the water’s edge with the reef is in snorkeling distance from the lab!
The labs are home to the recently launched Hyperbaric Chamber in Jamaica – the only in Jamaica – which is looking right up-to-date and an important place to know about for us divers (http://www.uwimona.edu.jm/cms/dbml/facilities.html#chamber).
Penn State University visitors – developing collaborations
We were there to meet with Professor Lee Kump the Head of the Department of Geosciences, Penn State University (http://www.geosc.psu.edu/geosc-home). Professor Kump was over on his first field course to Jamaica with a group of undergraduates and postgraduates undertaking a Marine Biogeochemistry course.
The group had a very successful week at the marine lab and thoroughly enjoyed their first trip to Jamaica. The group snorkelled on the reefs to develop skills in reef identification, and took sediment cores and water samples to investigate water chemistry and how it varies in relation to geology and runoff. As usual the marine labs impressed with their enthusiastic staff, great facilities and perfect location in addition to excellent hospitality to fuel the fieldwork!
We are developing collaborations with the Department of Geosciences, Penn State University to see how joint field trips can be developed with the Department of Geography and Geology, University of the West Indies (http://myspot.mona.uwi.edu/dogg/). In addition there were stimulating discussions about our research interests and current projects and the ways we would like to collaborate on new research activities in Jamaica.
Checking out the coral reefs
Visiting Discovery Bay Marine Lab would not be complete without checking out the reefs and despite the seas blowing up since our arrival we were able to get out for two great dives in Discovery Bay. Our dive guide also did some lionfish culling which contributed to the menu at lunchtime! (http://www.uwimona.edu.jm/cms/research.html#lionfish). On surfacing from the first dive out on the fore reef the weather had blown up and so we took the boat into the more sheltered West Back reef. Here we did a great dive down to 25m depth and got to see parts of the fascinating Coral Reef Recovery Project (http://www.uwimona.edu.jm/cms/research.html#restore) and the various artificial reef modules that have been deployed. It was nice to see that in many places where Acropora sp. branches have taken hold – it will be interesting to go back and find out how this develops. Also on the dive we came across some of the various groundwater seeps which we would like to investigate further – the water coming out was freezing!
Great weekend – watch out for further updates about the collaborations and field trips!