UCMP summer field research (cont.)

The second goal of the trip was to capture the simplest of all known animals, placozoans. Very little is known about these soft-bodied animals because they have never been observed in their natural habitat. Allen and Jen successfully captured placozoans that had settled onto (in effect, colonized) glass slides placed in seawater. According to Allen, there is supposed to be only one species of placozoan, but he now has molecular data that suggest otherwise.

Sulawesi, Indonesia
Drs. Roy Caldwell and Mark Erdmann (former Berkeley graduate student and postdoc) were joined by graduate students Helen Fox and Crissy Huffard on a UCMP-sponsored “cruise” along the northern coast of Sulawesi. Mark made international news in 1997 when he discovered that live coelacanths inhabit the Indonesian seas. While on their honeymoon in Indonesia, Mark’s wife Arnaz spotted the first coelacanth specimen on a passing fish cart. Since this first sighting, Mark has been searching for additional specimens in the area to determine the range of the local coelacanth population. During this expedition, he planned to interview fishermen to gather evidence of coelacanth catches along the coast.
On this trip, the team spent much of their time exploring the reefs and caves along the coast. They collected octopuses and stomatopods for Roy’s, Helen’s, and Crissy’s work, in addition to some limpets for UCMP Director David Lindberg. The group encountered some sobering sights while cruising along the Sulawesian coastline and was saddened to see the widespread reef destruction caused by local cyanide and blast fishing. They dove only one pristine reef during the month-long journey. In addition, the team observed an expanse of more than 100 kilometers containing a monoculture of diseased clove trees planted

  Allen Collins and Jennifer Johnson in Guam
Mark Erdmann and Roy Caldwell
At top, Allen Collins and Jennifer Johnson prepare casts of worm traces at the University of Guam Marine Laboratory, Mangilao, Guam. (photos by Jennifer Johnson and Allen Collins)

Mark Erdmann and Roy Caldwell enjoy the cruise to the village where a local fisherman reported catching a coelacanth, Sulawesi, Indonesia. (photo by Crissy Huffard)

Helen Fox recording blast fishing effects   Helen Fox records the effects of blast fishing on a coral reef. Click image to see an enlargement. (photo by Roy Caldwell)

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