Fellow PhD student Jenny Selgrath and I just attended the 2012 International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns, Australia. There were some wonderful talks. I was particularly drawn to the sessions covering the new Coral Triangle Initiative, but also really enjoyed a talk by Philippa Cohen, who has been researching temporal closure management in the Solomon Islands.
After all the talks and meetings were over, Jenny and I decided to visit the Great Barrier Reef. After all, how could we spend an entire week discussing coral reef conservation and not take the opportunity to see the world's largest coral reef system for ourselves? At the end of the conference we hopped on a bus to Port Douglas and then on a boat to Agincourt Reef.
Here's Jenny getting some work done on our way out to the reef (submitted as proof that graduate students do work all the time):
As soon we got in the water I noticed the huge reef flats:
But perhaps even more important for marine biodiversity were all the nooks and crannies in the reef that provide ideal shelter for all sorts of animals.
Although the fish were amazing, my favorite discovery was the giant clams. They come in so many beautiful colors, and some were almost as big as me!
After a week of thinking and talking about reefs it was great to be reminded, first-hand, of their beauty and importance as a marine habitat.
It was the perfect way to end the conference (submitted as proof that even graduate students have to sleep).
Jenny Selgrath and Danika Kleiber are PhD students with Project Seahorse.