Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tonga - Day 8

Hi everyone. After a week of collecting corals, we took a day off to prep the corals for export.

I used to prep the corals for export in these two fiberglass tanks back five years ago. The rope is for the shade cloth, so the cloth can sit flatly over the tanks.

This time around, we got allocated to the concrete tanks.

An assortment of beautiful montiporas sitting on a plastic crate.

And here are the tools to prep the corals. Prepping means to clean the corals of sponge and other things that can foul the water during transit. Inverts like worms, snails, nudibranchs can die in the bag and foul the water, killing the coral. The ax is to trim unnecessary rock that the coral is sitting on.

We had to work fast as the sun was bright and corals can bleach in matter of hours. Even with the shade cloth, we still had some corals bleach. Deep water corals like Pavona maldivensis were especially susceptible to the sun.

For better organization, each type of coral was grouped together. Basically we collect for certain amount of days and then I pick out the best from the batch for the orders. Afterwards, the left over corals are taken back to the sea.

Today was especially hot, the sky was almost pure blue.

A nice tray of pocilloporas. Some are pink, while others are pink and green. These corals are not so popular in the states, but in Europe, they are much more appreciated.

Tongan Scolymia vitiensis comes in mostly in orange and green. Sometimes a pink one will be found. The multiple headed ones look like the Indonesian versions. The colors don't look so good because of the sun. If you don't believe me, the next time you change water in your tank, take your best looking coral and take it outside in the sunlight - for sure it will look "dooky" brown!

It was lunch time and Teau went to look for some grub. This is what he came back with. Barbecue chicken with rice and macaroni and some strange sausages. "This sausage taste like human, yuck!" That is what I said. "How you know what human taste like?" Tau said. "Well if I had to eat you, then I would imagine it would taste like this sausage, what the heck is this made from?" "You don't want to know". "Okay you can have it!"

Back five years ago when I first got to Tonga, I met these two guys. Teau was a new diver (left) and didn't know what coral was and Tau (the one with the hat) didn't know how to swim and worked as boatman. I got Tau a 7mm wet suit and told him to jump in. He was actually scared of the water, but found out that he couldn't sink with the heavy duty wet suit. I told him that he couldn't be a boatman for the rest of his life and told him to learn to dive and collect corals, so he can make more money. As a diver he makes over 10 times a boatman does. With my training on the corals, both of these guys became superb coral collectors. I am very proud of them.

Did I mention that these two guys are from the US? They got deported after getting in trouble with the law - selling drugs. Teau even has multiple bullet wounds! The island really has made them humble though, and of course they regret what they did, could of had a good future in the good old USA. But then again, who would I trust to get good corals if they weren't here? I always tell them that things were meant to be, that three of us would be working together in Tonga - it is destiny!

My laptop to check up on the orders. And my favorite Tongan drink, a pineapple fanta! It is made in Fiji and tastes incredible!

Couple of strays looking for a handout.

This old man was around back five years ago. I used to share my lunch with this chap! Five years on the island really had taken a toll on him though. He was all beat up and scarred and even had a limp. Poor guy, should have ended up in Bali where the dogs are well taken care of.

Here are few corals that I took pictures of.

A very cool looking Acanthastrea subechinata. The cobalt coloration appears blue in the wild.

A cherry metallic orange Scolymia. Even under the flash, you can see the metallic color. Wish had my lights, like I do in Indo.

Yellow green pink eyed marbled favia - nice!

This favia is actually very red with strange markings. Really need halides!

I have heard that these acans can turn baby blue under halides. This little one definitely has a chance to turn blue!

Finger leather with a scolymia on one rock. Many of these type of leathers come with bright green polyps - very popular!

Superb lobophyllia with white mouths!

Check out this funky acan. Two morphs actually have fused together - very cool!

Another nice favia. This one is pink purple blotched!

Killer green and pink Acan maxima!

Nice purple and green acropora. Looks similar to a rosaria species with white polyps.

Thick branch tenuis. The colors are intense on these popular acros.

A big "frag" of Acropora nasuta. The colors are ultra green with purple tips. This is one of the harder to keep colored acros from Tonga. In aquariums, it will turn brown first and then color back up, need to have patience with this species.

I have had requests for yellow milleporas in the past. We are not talking about green ones that have bleached, but true yellows. Tonga has them, and I don't see too many of them in Indonesia.

Nice cluster acropora, purple with purple polyps!

Green and pink pocilloporas are always nice!

A cute nano teal colored sized acro!

This little chalice looks like an oxypora. Most of the chalices from Tonga have been echinophyllias. The other two chalice species is the mycedium and echinopora, which I haven't seen too much of in Tonga.

This maze brain is either a goniastrea or a platygyra. The Tonga species of these two type of corals are very similar. In the ocean floor, this coral was glowing blue (that is what the diver said).

People don't know it but Tonga has some nice gonioporas too!

This strange looking soft coral is locally called "speckled leather". When the polyps come out, it looks like little speckles. Comes in green and brown, but the polyps are always brown. Not so popular in the trade.

A green scolymia vitensis. Tongan scolys look similar to Indo ones, but you will never find a small scoly like this in Indo.

A pink and green tabling Acropora hyacinthus. A sensitive acro, reserved for the advanced sps keepers. Indonesian counterparts are much more hardier, really don't know why as the corals look identical.

The famous pink Acropora millepora!

One of the easier acros to maintain from Tonga, the Acropora sarmentosa. This one is dark green with orange tips.

One of the most beautiful sps (short polyp stony) coral species, the stylophora. Note the brownish areas, these are actually green polyps!

A cute little pink stylo, looks almost aquacultured!

Nice yellow stylophora with green polyps!

"eddie lobo" as it is called in Makassar! The Acanthastrea maxima, not quite as nice as the Indo ones, but hey we'll take it!

Gorgeous plate sized Echinophyllia aspera! Green blue base with pink eyes!

Orange bluish Acan subechinata. The eyes of the bluish side is pink in color!


Ok guys that is it for today. I have returned to the US a few days ago. Tomorrow I will be flying out to Hong Kong. I will stay there for a few days and then off to Bali. I will continue to post on Tonga until all the days are finished. Coming up next, I will post the videos I took from Tonga from HK.


1 comment:

Joe C said...

Very cool to have a peek at how the coral industry works! Thanks for your posts and pictures. Its a great read as well.

Aquaculture Northern Bali

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