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2007 Florida Keys Mission
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Mission Log Sept. 17, 2009

Geoff Cook, Co-Principal Investigator

Today’s blog is being composed in the style of a Mad Lib.  Enjoy!

Snorkeling with Elkhorn coral
(Acropora palmata)

Our day was spent conducting __________ (noun) on the fore reef environment at Looe Key.  After spending over two hours underwater counting __________ (plural noun) and describing __________ (noun), we had the good fortune of receiving an _________ (noun) to explore a relatively new patch of Acropora palmata, commonly known as the _________ (common name) coral.  Our directive was to snorkel around an area that was approximately___________(number) feet deep and select a prospective survey site to be included in future missions.  Acropora palmata is currently listed as ______________ (adjective) under the endangered species act, one of only two _____________ (nouns) to have ever been listed for protection. 

To our surprise, the _____________ (plural noun) of elkhorn coral were quite large and appeared to be in a relatively good state of _________ (noun).   After _________(adverb) scouting a large area, the team agreed on a suitable ___________(noun) to install a marker.  Using ________ (acronym) coordinates, navigational headings, and local landmarks, a second_________(noun) will locate this marker at a later date to make a permanent site installation. 

Although we were _________(adjective) to see so many colonies of Acropora palmata, we could not help but notice the lack of other _________(plural noun) of coral inhabiting this area.  Perhaps the reef crest/back-reef habitat is not_______________(adjective) to other coral species because it is so shallow?  Acropora palmata is known to thrive in areas where high levels of _____________ (noun) energy create lots of disturbance.  Fewer species of reef-building corals could prove beneficial for the threatened elkhorn coral because it would not have to________(verb) for space.  

Geoffrey M. Cook
George Mason University
Fairfax, Virginia 

Stations Surveyed to date: 40
Number of individual dives: 144

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