July/August Week 2

Red Team – Rob, Jake, Momo, Emma

We started off our week by visiting the schools. We taught classrooms of 60 to 100 children, the three different whales found in Mozambique: the humpback, the sperm and the blue. To represent the immensity of these incredible mammals, we used a 30m tape measure, astonishing the children. On Tuesday, we focused our lessons specifically on humpback whale behaviour, and spent time painting a classroom white in preparation for our murals next week.

On Wednesday, we spent the day diving conducting coral reef surveys in the local area. Our second dive however didn’t go to plan as a strong current meant the group became separated, meaning we got no data for the reef. After this on Thursday, we conducted a fisheries survey which was relatively quiet. Our highlight of the week was definitely the whale watching on that day where the bay was full of humpback whales, with one calf breaching only a few metres from the boat.

On Friday morning at 6am we headed off towards another fishery, watching the sunrise as we went.  Our morning consisted of sheltering from the wind and running a kilometre after a runaway umbrella. Nevertheless, we spent and enjoyable day on the beach, watching whales breach. Only 14 tropical halfbeaks were brought up today, so the logging was very short.

Yellow Team – Leander, Camille, Matt, Charlotte

The first two days of this week for team planet cheese included very little, with only two fishery catches on Tuesday. The two catches however, amounted to over 500 fish, the majority of which being wolfherring (or “walla walla” to the locals). After our first day of teaching at the schools on Wednesday, we were beginning to wish we were back at the beach. But after a short while with the kids, seeing how excited they were to learn, we started to have a whale of a time (pun intended)! The three days of teaching was enjoyable and rewarding, although tiring and challenging. The biggest challenge at the schools was when we were painting the classroom. The majority of the kids were overly enthusiastic to help us, even though this meant they had their own ideas of how to decorate the walls!

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our week (however tiring it may have been!) and are looking forward to a weekend of diving and surfing in Tofo (fingers crossed for whale sharks!).

Ps. Planet cheese refers to our favourite nak to snack during our lunch breaks at the the petrol station.

Green Group – Faye, Ben, Toby and Lois

Green group’s week began with a day of diving (YAY!) and carrying out our reef surveys. Our transects went reasonably well, and we enjoyed the fun dive after. The evening consisted of hours of fish ID and logging the data  – we’re going to be pro’s at the end of the program! There were a few black blobs which we eventually managed to ID with the help of our Field Specialist Willa.

Tuesday was a chilled day of fisheries at the local bay. The gill net was brought in a few times, with the catch consisting of many whitespotted rabbitfish, a unicornfish and a triggerfish. In pairs we headed out on the boats with the divers and whale watched. Lois and Faye had some great sightings of the Humpbacks swimming around the boat – they’re so impressive!

We visited the another fisheries on Wednesday. Arriving early for 7am, we spotted some fishermen using a kayak to drag up a large gill net, containing only a single needlefish. As the day progressed, the local fishermen started seeing some more successful catches. This included several huge king mackerel. One fisherman had even managed to catch an enormous female dolphinfish (which he proudly called “the chicken of the sea”). We also saw the locals taking advantage of the spring tides to collect worms and mussels at low tide, to be used for bait.

On Thursday we had a bit of a struggle while diving because of the surge, yet we managed to successfully complete our dives! We got to see a lot of triggerfish ,as well as, some moorish idols which you guys will be able to recognise from Finding Nemo (Gill). A lot of humpback whales were spotted on the boat while on our way to the diving sites ! 🙂

Friday was a departure from the (relatively) hectic pace of the other days. The weather meant that the Guinjata fishermen didn’t have much success, so we had no catch to log, only one whale recording, so no repeat of Monday’s late night spent huddled round a laptop. Whale watching was unexpectedly quiet, but we had the pleasure of being escorted out of the bay by a pod of dolphins in the afternoon, and Ben and Faye on the morning boat were lucky enough to be paid a visit by an inquisitive whale shark, barely 5m from the boat. We spent the afternoon beach cleaning, taking no time at all to fill 3 bags with plastic bottles from Korea, over 200 bottle tops and enough clothes for a fetching outfit. Some of the debris was put to use, with a bamboo pole subjected to unsuccessful attempts at pole vaulting followed by somewhat more successful attempts at rolling down a sand dune.

 

Blue Team – Georgia, Logan and Hana

This week was our first week of data collection in our new teams. The early mornings and long walks to Paindane were a bit of a shock to the system but it was worth it to see the amazing sunrises and the whales along the way.

Tuesdays diving started out as a bit of a mess, the coral surveys definitely need some practice… good job we have another three weeks! We finished with plenty of air to spare however which meant we spotted some rays, eels, and a long horn cow fish!

Wednesday and Thursday we spent doing fisheries surveys and were hugely impressed with the fishermans skills as they managed to catch a sail fish on a hook and line, and HUGE king mackerel. Because of the recent upwelling we and a visitor from the deep – a sea robin! Which usually lives 300m below sea level.

Another day of diving brought a BIG surprise. A strong current made it really difficult to do the coral reef survey, but the dive ended on a high as once we’d surfaced a whale shark swam right past the boat, only a few meters away!!!!

 

With the first two weeks on the program over already we can’t believe how the time is flying by! We’re very proud of how well our volunteers are working together and are keen to see what the next 3 weeks have in store for us! Keep tuned for next weeks blog post!