Friday, 26 May 2017

Coffin's Patch by Amanda Prystupa and Michael Klugerman

On May 24th, we visited Coffin's Patch as our first snorkeling spot of the day. According to legend, it got its name after the sinking of a cargo ship that was carrying empty coffins. The major marking for this area is a six foot tall stake that slightly protrudes from the water. This stake is now home to a plethora of organisms. It is a shallow mid channel patch reef with an average depth of about ten feet. Besides Looe Key, Coffin's Patch had the most biodiversity that we had seen throughout the week. There was an abundance of reef fish and soft corals. There was also minimal algae cover compared to the other sites we had previously visited. This site had the most amount of structure on a reef compared to other sites we had explored so far. This leads to a high abundance of fish and invertebrates due to the increase amount of crevices and hiding places for these organisms to protect themselves from predators. Since we were about three miles offshore the seas were rough, so rough that most of our group unfortunately began to feel sea sick. This site had a high abundance of soft coral because soft coral thrive in areas with high water flow, whereas hard corals normally can't withstand the intensity of the current. 

The water was also less turbid than the other sites we had gone to previously, however this could be because it was too deep for us to stir up the water when we jumped off the boat. Since the water was clearer it was easy to see the beautiful coral down below. This area had minimal algae cover due to the higher diversity of grazing reef fish. These fish eat the algae that begin to grow on the coral. This phenomena is very important for the coral because algae grow much faster than coral and if left uncontrolled the algae with over grow and begin to outcompete the coral for light and space.
     
Species of Organisms Found at Coffin’s Patch
Scientific Name 
Common Name
Sparisoma viride
Stoplight Parrotfish
Scarus guacamaia
Rainbow Parrotfish
Lactophrys triqueter
Smooth Trunkfish 
Chrysiptera parasema 
Yellowtail Damselfish
Ocyurus chrysurus
Yellowtail Snapper
Sphyraena barracuda
Great Barracuda
Mycteroperca bonaci
Black Grouper
Lutjanus apodous
Schoolmaster Snapper
Lutjanus griseus
Mangrove Snapper
Ginglymostoma cirratum
Nurse Shark
Stegastes partitus
Bicolored Damselfish
Acanthostracion quadricornis
Scrawled Cowfish
Holacanthus ciliaris 
Queen Angelfish
Pomacanthus arcuatus 
Grey Angelfish
Chaetodon capistratus
Foureyed Butterflyfish
Paracanthurus hepatus 
Blue Tang
Haemulon carbonarium
Caesar Grunt
Haemulon sciurus
Blue Striped Grunt 
Eretmochelys imbricata
Hawksbill Sea Turtle
Millepora alcicornis 
Branching Fire Coral 
Porites asteroides

Acropora cervicornis

Siderastrea siderea 

Colpophillia natans

Diploria clivosa

Diploria labyrinthiformis 

Dichocoenia stokesi 

Meindrina meindrites

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