We have been blessed with unseasonal good weather allowing us to visit the outer barrier and dive at the north end of Yonge reef, as well as North Direction Island and the outer reef between Bird and South. Today we even dived at Mac’s reef, almost unheard of at this time of the year.

The polychaete workers have been busy collecting at depths on SCUBA as well as by snorkelling, digging up the sand flats in front of the Research Station during these spring tides. Collecting on a night dive near the Station yielded 4 families swarming in the water column.

Sorting samples - polychaetes
Nataliya Budaeva sorting samples looking for the elusive onuphids and Pat Hutchings sorting her terebellids. Image: Alexander Semenov
© Alexander Semenov

The lab has been humming until the early hours of the morning with people sorting their samples into families and distributing them to the relevant specialists. In between the humming is a constant sound of hammering as people break open the dead coral to reveal the worms. Others are carefully washing the algae to extract the worms. One day was spent on the exposed reef flat at Coconut Beach and much was collected.

Prior to fixing the worms for either molecular or morphological studies many species are being photographed and these photos will be added to the Lizard Island Digital Guide as the species are identified. We anticipate that many will need to be described either as new species or new records.

So while we have all been working hard, we have also played a little bit, with many climbing Cook’s Look and others photographing the bird life, as well as enjoying Juan’s wonderful cooking.

Tomorrow we are planning to sample the soft sediments in Mrs Watson’s Bay and we anticipate finding another group of species.

So as well as collecting worms, many new friendships and collaborations have been developed and existing ones strengthened.

More later – back to sorting samples....