August/September Week 3 & 4

Week 3

Red Team – Adam, Kelly, Yas

After a week of fun and games with the kids at school, we started off this week with a humpback mother and calf sighting while whale watching in Guinjata Bay. No fish, but the sun was shining, which meant tanning could fully commence. Monday was a relaxing start to the week in comparison to the week before.

Tuesday started with a 5.45 am walk to one fishery, and the sunrise definitely made the walk worthwhile. We logged over 100 fish from a small pop-up tent in over 30-degree heat, pretty impressive! We didn’t finish logging until after 10pm, making our day a gruelling 17-hour shift but improving our fish identification skills further!

Wednesday was our first transect dive, it was a bit hectic, but we got some good data despite the many mysterious unknown fish.

Thursday took us to fisheries again, but luckily nowhere near as many fish, and definitely not as hot. We spent some time huddling up in the tent hiding from the rain. Dobby made an appearance again, but decided to ditch us while we were busy.

To end the week, we had some pretty good dives, Yasmine got to swim with humpback whales, and a blue spotted ribbontail ray swam straight under us while we were recording quadrats. It definitely didn’t take as long to log the data this time and we were done before dinner.

For our first week of actual data work, we definitely had a hard start, but hopefully next week we’ll improve.

Blue Team – Lucy, Charlie, Jeff (Tom)

Saturday: Fun dive
No lie-ins at the weekend! The team spent the morning on various fun dives including manta reef, eel alley and Paõ, however LTO has claimed its first victim – Tom’s little finger. Charlie then went off to teach the local kids how to swim – an essential skill for a coastal community.

Sunday: Pansy Island
We made our way to Pansy Island via catamaran! All in all, had a relaxing day snorkeling, sunbathing and playing ball games. It was pantastic. After we had pizza, we tried thinking of a pun but that would be too cheesy.

Monday: Transect diving
Spent the day diving for data, to name a few favorites we saw; sea snakes, turtles, octopus and orang-u-tan crabs. Also Jeff swam with a whale, no biggie.

Rest of the week
Getting into the routine now, whale watching and fisheries. Highlight of the week was seeing a whale shark from the boat, unforgettable!

Green Team – Scottie (Tom), Matt, Georgia

We spent this week teaching and painting at the local schools. Our topic for the week was sharks and rays, this was to the great delight of our shark fanatic Matt! We quickly got the hang of teaching, overcoming the language barrier with the aid of Pascal, our translator. One of the most successful lessons involved blind folding the students, mimicking the reliance that sharks and rays have on their electro-reception to find prey. In between lessons, we spent our time adding the final touches to the Red group’s food web mural – it was a great experience to be a part of the children’s education and we thoroughly enjoyed the week!

Yellow Team – Issy, Lydia, Charles, Harry

The second week of data collection ran a bit more smoothly than last week. Monday began with a sunrise walk to collect fisheries data. It was a long day waiting around, however, in the end it was worth it because we collected a huge amount of data from one big catch at the end of the day.

Tuesday and Thursday were both spent diving to collect coral reef data. We went to Caves on Tuesday and were efficient enough in doing the transects, that we had time to explore the caves afterwards. We dived in Hard Rock and Levi’s Ledge on Thursday, which meant we could collect some different data. Underwater, we saw a guitar fish, a sleepy turtle, plenty of octopus, and some of us managed to get manicures of cleaner shrimp. Up on the boat, Lydia was lucky enough to see a whale shark as big as the boat, swimming just 5m away! Unfortunately, it swam off too quickly for her to jump in. Wednesday and Friday were spent whale watching and collecting fisheries data in Guinjata Bay. Not many whales were seen at first, but on the second boat trip on Friday, Harry and Charlie were snorkeling with a humpback and its calf right beneath them.

We are now just over half way through the programme, and are all dreading going home in 2 weeks!

 

Week 4

Red Team – Adam, Yas, Kelly

Our first weekday was quite a shocker, as our glorious morning was cut short by a scalloped hammerhead being finned on shore. We didn’t see the actual killing, but we had to measure the head and fins that the fishermen had retrieved. It was hard not to show emotion, but here in rural Africa at least none of the shark goes to waste.

The rest of the week was much more relaxed. We saw some impressive king mackerel and yellowfin tuna at the fisheries on Wednesday, after a quick beach clean.

We had transect dives on Tuesday and Friday, seeing a blue spotted stingray, a school of king mackerel (which are much more impressive alive!) and a surprising appearance of a common octopus chilling on our transect line. Logging has definitely become a lot smoother as our identification skills have improved over the course of the program.

Overall, we’ve had a great week of sun, sea and stingrays, and hopefully, if we’re lucky, we’ll get to swim with a manta, humpback or whale shark this weekend on the ocean safari.

 

Green Team – Georgia, Matt, Scottie (Tom)

We returned to data collection this week and despite greatly enjoying the schools, it was nice to be back in the field. We spent our first day at Guinjata, whale watching and monitoring the fisheries. Unfortunately, Georgia had to go to South Africa for a few days to renew her visa which left Tom and Matt logging over 180 Needleskin Queenfish from fisheries on Tuesday. By Friday Georgia was back in action, however the conditions for transect dive were not ideal, the surge and visibility were not the best and we had to abort the quadrat survey. Having spoken to the local fishermen, it seems that they will be taking out the shark fishing boats next week which may provide some interesting catches. We are all looking forward to the weekend off and our ocean safari!

Blue Team – Charlie, Lucy, Jeff (Tom)

This week we were teaching and painting at the local schools. Our lessons were based on ocean trash, informing the kids about what constitutes as ocean trash and how it even ends up there. We focused on turtles, sharks and fish and how plastic affects them. Later in the week we discussed ocean trash distribution and garbage patches before finally covering the future and how we can all combat this massive problem. The bulk of our painting took place at Guinjata school where we transformed a brand-new classroom from the dull grey of plaster to bright blue and white walls with a mural of the hydrological cycle on the back wall. Today we had an incredible dive on Manta Reef! We saw so much cool stuff, massive schools of Big-Eye King Fish, many Potato Rockcod and Barracuda to just name a few. On the way back from this dive we came across some humpbacks and all managed to swim with 3 humpback whales with 1 being a calf!

Yellow Team – Harry, Lydia, Charles, Issy

Our week started off with diving on Monday, where we went to Pao on the morning dive followed by Devil’s peak later in the morning. The morning dive in Pao was great, where we saw a green turtle swimming right across our first 5 meter transect as well as lots of nudibranchs and 2 large moray eels sharing a hole on our 2 meter transect!

Tuesday and Wednesday saw us doing fisheries monitoring in the bays, with whale watching on Tuesday in Guinjata. Unfortunately we were a team member down as Issy had to go to South Africa for a last minute visa renewal, but the days were quiet with few fish landed so we were still able to work well. We did log a torpedo ray at Paindane, which we had to be careful whilst measuring so we wouldn’t get electrocuted!

On Thursday we were back at Guinjata bay doing fisheries and more whale watching, where we noticed that whale activity was generally higher in the early morning trips than the late morning ones. Issy was also back from South Africa so yellow team was complete again. It was a full moon on Thursday so lots of the local people came to the bay to take advantage of the low spring tide and gather mussels and fish trapped in the rock pools.

On Friday Charlie and Harry had to go to Maxixe to also get their visas renewed, which as well as a later start was made even better by a trip to KFC on the way home! This left Lydia and Issy to monitor fisheries by themselves, which was fairly quiet again with only 18 fish landed. They did find Dobby again though, who was looking very photogenic.

 

We can’t believe we’re already into the last week of the August/September volunteer program! These guys have been AWESOME and we’ll be SO sad to say goodbye! Keep up the good work everyone and have an amazing last week in Mozambique with us!