Rob has a distinctive packing style
Our three weeks in Australia have ended, so we are packing up all of the specimens, and shipping them back to the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Packing, itself, is a long drawn out affair- all the containters need to be drained of Ethanol, then packaged together with other specimens, heatsealed into a plastic bag, and then packaged into small barrels. With over 2000 specimens, it takes HOURS. But if it means that they make it back to the museum safely, it is time well spent.
The trip was interesting in terms of what was on the island, and what wasn't. As expected, rarity was the rule, and some groups that we expected to be common were all but absent. Unlike many places in the Indo-Pacific, the coral genus Pocillopora was largely absent from the area- and certainly not a reef dominant group, as it is in Moorea. The same could be said of many types of Sea Cucumbers. Parasitism of echinoderms and crustaceans was common.
The large scale questions remain: What drives these patterns of diversity? Why is this place different from others?