While monitoring the transects, the falling tide drew flocks of gray herons and golden plovers to the fringes of the reef. In mock sorties probably less serious than others, a pair of brahminy kites made ornery swoops to buzz one spear fisherbird. Later, a black-shouldered kite hovered in the twilight to hawk the last of visible motion in the grass.
The work done, we walked from mangrove to sand to mudflat to meadows to the reef edge, peering into pools where fanworms fluttered and mushrooms crawled. Occasional raspberry-pink sponges broke the monotony of their brown and yellow cousins. Boulders of polyps glowed with protective green while long columns of violet-mouthed Goniopora swayed to the breeze that blow away our sweat. Crabs with furry bits and ferocious pincers scrambled to evade capture, but a marine spider kindly sat for a portrait. As we left, a barge brimming with the ashes of the city arrived, docking at the collection hall that sifts through the trash of an island where some remain too small in mind to mull the consequences of their casual thoughtlessness.