Team America trio find harmony – and lots of critters – on Lizard

Team America specimen Actinopyga miliaris


Thursday 26 February 2009
Image: Francois Michonneau    
THEY come from three different countries but they share much more than just a lab here on Lizard Island.
The three men from the University of Florida also share a collective nickname – Team America.
Arthur Anker, originally from Russia, Francois Michonneau, from France, and Robert Lasley, from the United States, form one of the more eccentric trios on the CReefs expedition.
Apart from bringing their unique tastes in world music to the island, they also each specialise in different areas useful to the CReefs project.
Art studies shrimp and has "barely scratched the surface" of what is available in these waters.
One of the more important aspects of his studies includes the chance to take colour photographs of specimens which had either only been seen in black and white or had not been photographed at all.
For the latter, Art also faces the difficult task of matching live specimens to their written description.
Art and the others have been receiving a lot of specimens from the ARMS recovered recently.
Francois has been examining sea cucumbers and has found a number of undescribed species.
He said a lot of sea cucumbers looked relatively similar in their morphology and therefore hadn't been looked at carefully enough.
Francois is hoping to be part of a large taxonomical review of the organisms, and the trip to Australia meant he was able to broaden his knowledge of species around the world.
Lastly, Rob. As the resident crab expert, Rob receives all the crustaceans found in the ARMS and coral heads. However he has a specific target – he is working on a revision of chlorodiella, a group with about 12 species described.
Rob said he has already found some specimens and has noticed interesting colour differences.
"Colour is really important and it hasn't been used a lot," he said.
The team will continue to share a lab – and a nickname – until it is time to take their travelling show back on the road to Florida.
            Team America specimen:                                           Team America specimen: 
                         Fromia.                                                            Phyllacanthus imperialis