Program 2, Week 3- volunteer blog post!

Team 1- Tom, Hannah, Sam and Johanne

This week started with two days of painting where we finished our Arctic wall on one of the school buildings in Pandaine. The detailed work, such as the bordering (Hannah´s field of specialization) and the colour contouring of our small fish took a while, and we decided to stay in Pandaine for the whole two days instead of moving on to Guinjata. After a long day of hard work in the burning sun, we were quite satisfied with the result, especially when seeing the before and after comparison with and without paint. After a lot of persistence, Tom got his wish and painted a tiny penguin in the corner of the wall, and it became the pseudo-signature of our work.

Even though we enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere of painting and listening to music, it was nice to move on to something else. Wednesday was our first day of fisheries data collection at Pandaine beach. The day started early and with backpacks filled with essentials such as food, water and reading material, we set off on our long walk towards the fishing spot. As we approached, the fishermen had already started dragging four sharks into shore. We were just in time to follow them back to “the death dunes” where they the disembowel the sharks before stripping them bare, turning these animals into nothing but meat to feed their families. One of the sharks was very heavy and the fishermen needed assistance from Tom and Sam to drag it up the dunes. We could now begin our work measuring the sharks and photographing them. We had to be quick before they started disembowelling the bodies. This was our first experience seeing sharks this way, and luckily they were all dead when we arrived so we didn´t have to watch them suffer. As we waited for our vertebrae and bits of flesh to be cut out for our research, we were observing how the fishermen cut off the fins and dragged out their intestines. Suddenly they pulled out a baby shark, first one and then more and more until we counted twelve in total. It was depressing to think that counting these babies there were 16 sharks killed today… As well as picturing them swimming in the water only a while ago. But as the fishermen continued, it all started to look more like meat than animals, and we turn on our scientific curiosity and tried to recognize the different body parts of the shark. This was the only catch today, and the rest of the day we were chilling out on the beach reading and sleeping. Hannah was not joining us today since she wasn´t feeling well. After a very long day in the sun, we started walking back to Guinjata and the house where more work awaited us. We needed to cut out the vertebrae and setting it out to dry as well as logging out measuring data and identify the shark species.

Thursday was diving for us, meaning that we got to sleep a bit longer than usual. During the first dive Sam was snorkelling at the surface taking the GPS-coordinates while Tom and Johanne were diving. The conditions were very bad, with low visibility as well as a strong current making it a challenge to do the filming and put down the quadrat on the transect. We were left with a very bad video containing only one fish and three corals, and a green colour disguising all other colours making the identification of the species very difficult. The next dive was cancelled because of the bad conditions, so we got the afternoon off.

Friday and the last day before the weekend we spent at the Guinjata Dive Centre doing fisheries research there. We got a few catches of lobsters and some small fish, but other than that it was a nice day chilling at the beach.

 

Team 2- Ollie, Shelby, Natasha and Rachael

Captains Log: Stardate – 94236.67

We encountered an arachnoid species in sector 7G. A sample was acquired from the surface population which was subsequently released rather than terminated under my orders.

 So basically we (Shelby, Tasha and Rachael) found a potentially deadly and territorial tarantula in our bathroom and Ollie bravely captured it, then decided to let it go behind the house before finding out whether or not it could kill us. Suffice it to say that no one has walked around barefoot in the dark in our room since then. To be fair, we did ask Eugenio which are the deadly ones and were told only the black ones are dangerous, ours was brown. 

This week was pretty eventful, even though we didnt do any dives. The Guinjata fishermen brought up a marbled electric ray and a longhorn cowfish, as well three gill nets-worth of other fish. Paindane was the most fascinating, although morbidly so. We got to see three Zambezi sharks being cut up and divided between the fishermen. Although it was sad and a little sickening, this was a rare opportunity to see the inner workings of such a rare and majestic species.

The rest of the week was spent painting at Paindane school. Unfortunately our original plan to do the orca mural was foiled when we realised the other group had already started it. Instead we ended up painting a polar bear mother and cub. We then started on the inside of one classroom with a map of Mozambique at the back and numbers from 1 to 100 on the side walls. At one point Rachael got a little excited with the paint and left lovely handprints on both Shelby and Ollie, although I should add that this was while washing up so no paint was wasted! 

 Weve spent three weeks here now and are really starting to fall in love with this place. Having seen some amazing things, such as breaching humpbacks with their calfs and manta rays, we cant wait to get back in the water and continue collecting data over the next two weeks.

 

Team 3- Caitlin, Kimi and Mark (Smith)

Monday was an unexpected diving day as we were switched with Team 4. Our two dives were on Devil’s Peak; on the first dive Kimi lost her camera as she was surfacing, so on our second dive we carried out a search and rescue after we completed our transect. Miraculously Zelda, one of the owners of the dive centre, found it, making it the second lost camera she has found in as many weeks. We were also lucky enough to see six humpbacks on the surface.

On Tuesday we spent the day at Guinjata, however the day before the fishermen had caught a huge amount of fish, so very few of them went out on Tuesday. This slow day allowed Kimi to do some henna tattoos on the tourists visiting the dive centre, collecting donations for Love The Oceans for her work. Amazingly Sheila the Land Rover restarted again after being stuck on the beach for a week and a half.

On Wednesday we were at Guinjata again, and yet again it was a pretty slow day for the fishermen, and so a slow day for us. We did get to see a humpback whale teaching her calf how to fin slap and tail slap, they did this for a good twenty minutes and were very close to shore, which was amazing.

Thursday was our day at Paindane this week. The shark boat brought in three juvenile sharks, two scalloped hammerheads and one spottail, however because the weather was quite choppy the kayakers that went out had very little luck, with only one guy catching anything being an Eastern Little Tuna. The choppy weather had washed up a whole load of gelatinous animals on to the shore, which were fascinating to poke about and look at.

On Friday we had our second diving day this week. The first dive turned into a fun dive when the GoPro had an SD Card Error and we couldn’t record anything. The second dive was more successful, and Kimi and Smith got some good data. Caitlin was snorkelling on this survey dive and was lucky enough to see humpbacks and dolphins from the boat.

We are looking forward to starting our turn painting at the school next week, and to look at all the murals on the classrooms teams one and two have finished!

 

Team 4- Beth, Callum and Paige

Beth has been riding a Manta Ray high all week after she saw her first sighting on Saturday morning, 5 in total. Paige and Callum also had their first sighting of a Manta Ray seeing 2 on a later dive that afternoon. Paige completed her PADI Advanced Open Water on the same dive and was thrilled that she got to see her first manta ray, turtle and potato bass all on her first deep dive.

Sunday morning, we all took a trip to Tofo for beginner surfing lessons. Everybody had great fun in the surf, but Callum stood out as the star performer leaving everyone else in his waves. Callum also made the most of the markets by buying gifts for himself, family and friends back home.

On Monday, Beth and Callum walked to Paindane as Paige took the day off to renew her visa. After recording another 2 sharks at death dune, we were followed back to the beach by 2 local children, Carilito and Rivo. Callum decided to play with them to pass the time and ended up being buried up to his neck in the sand.

Tuesday and Wednesday we were diving, recording data for the coral reef survey. Paige managed to feed the fish on 5 occasions from the boat whilst she was on snorkel duty. However, her spirits were raised later on when we swam through Aerials Arc and found ourselves in the middle of a large school of fish. Moreover, the whales were exceptionally vocal on both days of our diving and we managed to record some of their singing on the hydrophone, which sounded wonderful!

Thursday we spent our day at Guinjata fishery and managed to scare off the only fisherman who caught any fish that day as they ran away before we could record their catch, much to our disbelief and amazement. Later that day Callum scared the whole bay by swimming out a little too far into the sea, so much so that Jeff’s Dive Centre thought he was in need of rescue and sent a boat out to save him. Only he was ok and was able to swim back to shore, much to the relief of all the people on the beach.

On Friday at Paindane fishery, Callum made Beth, Paige and himself reclining chairs in the sand and upon returning from another long day, Paige and Callum took part in a Mexican version of ring of fire, the drinking game that is! Many drinks were consumed, and a lot of fun was had too, particularly so by a rule named gecko, as seen in one of the pictures below.

During the week, Beth and Callum completed their Emergency First Response training having great fun bandaging each other up and splinting all of Ollie’s limbs, whilst also learning some lifesaving skills. Then on the Saturday, they began their PADI Rescue Diver course, including a fun rescue skills pool session and learning how to carry somebody safely out of the water.

 

Its going wonderfully here in Guinjata Bay! Our volunteers are working hard on the databases and the work at the school is progressing at an amazing pace. Can’t wait to see what we can all accomplish in the next 2 weeks!