After more than a year it is finally time to remove some of the ARMS from the reefs!
PhD student Jose Randrianandrasana and his team previously deployed ARMS in five different habitat types (e.g., coral reefs, sand flats, seagrass beds) within Ranobe Bay to see what settles on the newly designed limestone ARMS and assess differences in species between habitat types.
Over the past month, Jose and team dove down to collect the ARMS and brought them up to the surface to be analyzed.
We first enclose the ARMS within a mesh bag before putting it into a crate and pulling it up to the surface. The ARMS is then transferred back to the lab at IHSM where the team disassembles, photographs, and finally scrapes organic material from the plates to save for gene sequencing. We are finding that the ARMS from coral reefs are almost entirely covered in pink, crustose coralline algae, which produce chemical cues that induce coral larvae to settle and is one of the best indicators of a healthy reef. And yes, we even foud some baby corals!