GOPR7323Wetsuits were in order as the lionfish team took to the seas for their December surveys of the patch reefs.  A three-day blitz with eighteen dives brought us to sixteen sites and ninety-one transects in 73°F water.  Neither impending exhaustion nor chattering teeth could dampen our spirits as we conducted REEF surveys of fish abundances, counted and sized lionfish and their competitors, and photographed the benthic environment for habitat assessment at each of the sites.  We saw napping nurse sharks, spotted morays, a tiny bandtail puffer, and a rarely sighted cherub fish.GOPR7301 (1)GOPR7081 (1)Now it’s back to the lab to dissect the thirteen lionfish that we removed and to log the pile of twenty-six survey sheets that we used.  Nothing like riding the pristine sunset-lit waters back in after a long day of scuba diving with over fifty species to remind us why we work so hard to understand and protect these reefs.