Next up in our series of project reveals is our teammate, Dani! Dani is here to tell us all about her work she plans to carry out in the Red Sea this summer.
Project Title: Investigating territorial behaviour and spatial exploitation of the Red Sea clownfish, Amphiprion bicintus.
What is the significance behind your project?
Clownfish are an incredible species that undergo an extremely interesting obligate relationship with anemones. The clownfish are protected from the anemones stinging cells by mucous that contains the host anemones chemical makeup and thus inhibits any damage to the fish. The relationship is vital for both members with clownfish often going to great lengths to protect their host anemone. The anemones can receive higher chances of survival, enhanced reproduction and increased growth from the relationship with the clownfish and, in return, the anemones provide shelter and therefore protection of both the individuals and their eggs. Up to 1,500 eggs may be laid near the base of the anemone and are therefore protected aggressively, any potential threats including divers may be attacked. The Red Sea Clownfish is endemic to the Red Sea area and can be found in colonies with hundreds of pairs of clownfish in close proximity, which is an unusual circumstance. As a result, I will be looking at how the clownfish utilise their space and behave in terms of territory in relation to clownfish in other locations that are more sparsely distributed. Researching as much as we can about different species is vital so that we can continue to learn about the environments that surround us and ultimately try to conserve and protect them.
How are you going to carry out your project?
The aim of this project is to observe the territorial behaviour of A.bicintus towards their host anemone in relation to the varying predators that may be present. Secondly, to observe and compare the behaviour between of A.bicintus depending on the spatial surrounding of the host anemones. A team of two divers will be required for data collection. A stereo video camera will be mounted on a tripod and placed to record 2m away from the anemone, depending on the topography of the reef. Diver 1 (lead diver) will oversee the camera setup, whilst diver 2 will record certain measurements regarding the site on a dive slate including the depth and temperature, using a dive computer, and current using a flow meter. The camera will then be left to record the anemone for approximately 45 minutes before collection, which will be dependent on the battery life. On return to the site, Diver 1 will retrieve the camera and Diver 2 will record the same measurements, again using a dive computer and flow meter. GPS will be used to provide coordinates of the location of the pair of anemone fish and their corresponding anemones.
What are you most looking forward to in the Egypt Expedition?
This will be my second summer out in Egypt on the expedition, as I was a team member and treasurer for the 2017 trip. I am extremely excited to be returning to the Red Sea to conduct my own research product this year and learn more about the beautiful environment. Another aspect I am particularly excited about is the outreach which we will continue with the NGO Roaya, especially as it allows us to work with children out in Egypt to get them excited about Marine Biology and educate them about the importance of looking after such a unique environment.
You can support our expedition (click here!) by donating to our page – we are extremely grateful for every donation, no matter how small. We’d also like to thank everyone for supporting us so far, through donations, attending our fundraisers, or by other means.
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