In the afternoon, we returned to a more sheltered, inland portion of Penguin Spit. This section of the reef is located between the lagoon flat and Penguin Spit Middle, where we sampled last week, and is home to large patches of sand and corallimorph surrounded by corals. Needless to say, we had much better luck collecting sand here than at Crazy Corals. The patches of sediment were even large enough to actually kneel in without damaging the surrounding corals, which certainly made the task of digging into the sand easier. The alternative is either hovering over the corals or inverting yourself in a sort of awkward anti-gravity handstand to access the substrate without touching the corals (which harms them). However, in these sampling positions, it is difficult to exert enough leverage to insert your shovel into the sand without solely being pushed backwards or upwards.
While the sediments here were heavily bioturbated, meaning that we had to carefully search for good places to sample, the actual act of filling our sampling bags with sand went pretty quickly. We were able to collect all 10 replicate bulk bags in about 20 minutes. Another site down!