To collect the samples small branches were taken from marked coral on the reef and placed in natural sea water where they were stored on the research boat until we returned to the lab. At the Orpheus Island lab the coral samples were placed in Formalin for transport back to James Cook University.
The samples were then placed into jars of 5% HCL to dissolve the skeleton. After the decalicification process the soft tissue samples will be analyzed for zooxanthellae densities. Zooxanthellae are dinoflagellates that have a symbotic relationship with coral. Coral get 90% of their energy from zooxanthellae.
To find the zooxanthellae densities small tissue samples will be taken from each of my 52 coral samples and homogenized (blended) and placed on a haemacotometer (special grid slide used with blood samples). I will be using a 40X optical zoom microscope to count zooxanthellae.
Natural variation will still need to be determined.
This was hard to get!!!
Dominique grabbing some samples! She is amazing!
Orpheus is beautiful from the water!