We spent our first week in Guinjata Bay becoming familiar with the area, listening and participating in lectures on the research fields we are focusing on (coral reefs, fisheries and humpback whales) and practising the research methodologies we will be using in the following weeks.
On Monday, Pascal (LTO’s translator that helps us to teach at the school) invited us on a cultural tour that included a visit to his home in the village. We played football with the local children and ate a local dish that Pascals wife kindly made for us. It is called matapa and is made from coconut, matapa leaves and chicken stock. Nomnomnom…
The next day we visited two local schools, Guinjata and Paindane. We got to see the classrooms that were built by LTO (thank you for all the donations!) and the amazing educational murals that previous LTO volunteers have painted. Even though it was a school holiday there were many children helping their teachers to clean the school. We invited them to play a footie match…which we may have lost…
On Wednesday, we ventured out to the fisheries sites. It’s a long but beautiful one hour walk along the beach at 6 am. There we saw where the fishermen keep their boats and equipment, and where they land their catch. At the fishery we gained a doggy companion called Dobby, he came all the way back with us and has been an important member of the team since!
Thursday was dive day! The first dive group had a very lucky encounter en route to the dive site. They snorkelled beside a humpback whale and her calf, super impressive! The second group had some nice encounters on their dive, including 5 turtles and other awesome reef life such as mantis shrimp, lionfish, guitarfish and moray eels. Our weekend saw some relaxation for us all here. We chilled on the beach, took bodyboards into the sea and played beach volleyball, as well as sun tanning of course. On Sunday we did a massive beach clean up – and collected a total of 25.5kg of rubbish and plastic!
Yellow Team – Issy, Lydia, Charles, Harry
This week was the first week of collecting data for LTO, after spending last week training. Monday began with a splash! We spent the day whale watching and came across a calf jumping out of the water, as well as two huge breaches right in front of the boat. Tuesday and Thursday were both spent at Paindane fisheries collecting data. We managed to collect lots of data on the first day, but, unfortunately for the fishermen, a lot of boats came back empty handed on Thursday. However, we did manage to pitch the beach tent using only umbrellas and sticks.
Wednesday and Friday were both supposed to be spent diving, but bad weather on Wednesday meant that the dives had to be cancelled. Instead we spent the day at the local schools, helping another group with painting. Thankfully, the weather cleared up a lot by Friday, and we had two very successful dives. At the end of the second dive a mother humpback and its calf came up right by the boat, which meant that Issy, Lydia and Charlie could jump in the water and swim right next to them! We are all now looking forward to having a relaxing weekend, before all the excitement starts again on Monday and we can’t wait to see what the next 3 weeks will bring.
Blue Team – Lucy, Charlie, Jeff (Tom)
Started the week with a very early alarm, but it was worth it for the amazing sunrise. Wet and windy conditions to start with, but Andrea came to the rescue with warm clothes and brownies. Two rays greeted us: one sunshine and one marbled electric, along with the rest of the fishermen and their impressive catches. Namely, a honeycomb moray eel and a huge squid!
First official day of transect diving today, despite challenging conditions it proved to be a good learning curve in terms of both data collection and diving technique. A pint (or two) was had after a successful afternoon of logging.
Wednesday: Guinjata fisheries and whale watching
Quiet day at the office, weather conditions didn’t allow for any diving or much fishing today. All the whale watching, therefore, took place on the beach (it’s a hard life). Saw plenty of breaches but, alas, no fisheries data was recorded today.
Thursday: More diving
Another day, another dive. The humpbacks kindly treated us to an underwater live concert. The dives were a huge improvement from Tuesday’s (you could say they went swimmingly) therefore there was lots of logging and fish identification to do that afternoon.
Friday: Guinjata fisheries and whale watching again
Fintastic day! Watched the whales from the boat and recorded their vocalisations. A few of us got the chance to swim with a humpback and her calf when the boat got close enough. A pod of dolphins wasn’t a sight for sore eyes either! Bring on next week!
Red Team – Adam, Kelly, Yas
Team Red’s first week consisted of teaching the school pupils of Paindane and Guinjata. Our topic for the week was ’turtles’ (Tartaruga in Portuguese). We aimed to teach the anatomy of a turtle, along with their habitats, diet, predators and life cycles and ending with the anthropogenic impacts.
At first the experience was quite daunting. We did not have much teaching experience and the kids were very shy and didn’t want to answer questions. Some classes were full with over 100 kids, with over 4 children to a desk. However, over time, we got a good gauge of what worked well and what didn’t, and the kids came out of their shells (pun intended) as the days went by.
Over the course of the week we’ve witnessed the kids warm to us and learn from our classes. They participated in lessons more, showed an increasing curiosity in marine life, and proved to us that they’d learned from what we taught them. It’s a great feeling to spark a child’s enthusiasm. One boy was eager to show us his notepad full of marine animal drawings, along with a big cheesy smile when we said how great the drawings were. We’ve handed out stickers and prizes and they’ve all been received with immense gratitude.
We made old playground games applicable to our lessons and got the kids to run around. They didn’t stop laughing which felt awesome. After we finished our mural, Yasmine ended up having to draw 3 sharks as the kids were so impressed with her scalloped hammerhead.
We have an overwhelming amount of respect for teachers as a result of this week. As much as we enjoyed it, we are exhausted!
Green Group Blog – Scottie (Tom), Matt, Georgia
We were very lucky being the first group to dive at the start of the week. Our first attempt at carrying out the coral transect was seriously tough, thanks to the challenging conditions of the Indian Ocean. However, an encounter with an Electric Marbled Ray afterwards made it all worthwhile. Throughout the week we monitored the fisheries from both Guinjata and Paindane. We enjoyed this because we were able to see the array of species that the waters here have to offer, although it was a reminder of the unregulated fishing that occurs in a developing country. After an insightful week, we are all looking forward to relaxing at the bar-racuda this weekend.
We’re really enjoying having the August program here and they’ve been amazingly enthusiastic and positive despite some questionable weather delaying diving days. We’re very much looking forward to what the next few weeks bring! Good job guys!