The return of the monk seal!

Aloha friends! We have just finished our dive ops at Pearl and Hermes Atoll. Pearl and Hermes is a rather large reef, spanning over 194,000 acres (only 80 of which are land).  This expansive atoll is known for abundant reef sharks, teeming massive ulua, and of course curious monk seals.  The first couple of day we had some pretty rough weather- the south side of the atoll had over 15 foot swells! But, even with the tumultuous seas in the south, the north side of the atoll was luckily much more welcoming.

The reef structures up here are so magnificently diverse!  In a single day we dove on a reef dominated by Porites lobata (a mounding coral that does not offer much reef complexity) with coral canyons everywhere, a Pavona duerdeni reef (also known as the “pork chop coral”) , and a reef covered with Porites compressa (also known as the finger coral).  We saw our fair share of Ulua and sharks as expected and our friend the monk seal was waiting to great us at reef 42 in literally the exact same spot as last year (click herefor last years story).

P. compressa reef

Pavona reef

Mostly coral rubble with some P. lobata

By our fourth day here the seas subsided in the south and we were able to get to all of our bioerosion sites and conduct over a dozen coral health surveys.  For an added treat, the skies completely cleared up exposing the beautiful picturesque night sky. At around 10pm there was a meteor shower with shooting stars everywhere and one meteor that completely light up the sky for maybe 3 or 4 seconds. Once again a very successful science mission to Pearl and Hermes.

Here are some Pearl and Hermes pictures for your enjoyment!

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