Six months and a few hundred diving photos later, I returned to Palau. This time, the purpose of travel was entirely different. Instead of vacationing in Palau, I was doing field work – coral experiments. Marine biologist Prof. Palumbi and Megan Morikawa from Stanford University were doing baseline data collection in Palau. Amazingly, I was fortunate enough to be able to join them on this research expedition. Along with my friend Sebastian, another avid diver and photographer, I was introduced to sample and data collection in the ocean. By using data loggers, we recorded temperatures of the patch reefs in the area. A critical aspect of the experiment was to navigate the seas and find the locations at which the data loggers were first placed. I found this to be a very valuable learning experience as I was taught how to use a satellite GPS and use it to navigate the waters. It was fun, it was relaxing, and it was educational.
As you can imagine, doing research work in an environment like that of Palau, it’s hard not to become distracted by the beauty of the environment. With our underwater cameras, Sebastian and I were able to capture breathtaking photos of underwater life. On one particular occasion, Prof. Palumbi discovered a lionrock: a rock that sheltered lionfish. By using still shots with the GoPro, I was able to record the movements of a spectacular baby lionfish and its two parents. It’s the little things that we saw during our research expedition that really attracts me to this particular type of research. It’s the combination of seeing wildlife beauty and the research work around it that interests me. This is why I enjoy marine biology.