Part of the team has just landed on Heron Island on the Southern Great Barrier Reef in Australia. After a rather "lumpy" two hour ride on the catamaran out to the island, we've started to settle in for a few weeks.
The island is absolutely alive with birds. During the day, noddies, egrets, rails, and plovers go about their business with cacaphonous ablomb. Now that the sun is setting, the shearwaters are arriving in droves, crash landing into people and buildings, then running to their nests in burrows in the sandy soil. It is new and amazing, though I am told that after a few weeks, you relish the comparative silence to be found underwater.
Our first dive will be tomorrow, so tonight we are setting up our equipment. We are here as part of the CReefs program to explore and document tropical marine biodiversity. As with Biocode, the efforts revolve around bringing in taxonomic and systematic experts to quantify as many taxa as possible during the short time we have here. FLMNH is represented by three people: Francois Michonneau, an expert in Holothurians, Rob Lasley who works on crabs, and myself, working on coral symbionts.