September/October Week 1, 2 & 3

Week 1

The weather was a tad stormy when we arrived, however it’s improved throughout the week and its now glorious sunshine all day long. Our group may be small but perfectly formed, spanning 3 continents and 4 countries (South Africa, USA, UK and Isle of Man). We’ve got to know each other really well throughout our training week, from trying Matapa (yummy local dish), to watching a duck have a near death experience with a falling coconut, to diving ‘Caves’ where we saw eels and turtles. Forget what you’ve heard about the best whale watching spots, Guinjata is a hidden gem where we’ve seen whales fin slapping, tail lobbing and breaching 24-7. After all the training, we’re now all ready and looking forward to the weeks ahead – teaching, fisheries research, humpback surveys and coral reef surveys. This weekend we’re heading out to Tofo to try surfing then hopefully diving ‘Manta Reef’ if the weather holds out. Got to go, the R&R’s (Rum & Raspberry) are calling!

 

Week 2

Team 2 – Lindsay, Melissa, Katie

This week was our teaching week, but Monday was a public holiday so we spent our time finishing off educational murals at both schools – Guinjata and Paindane. Our theme for teaching and painting for the week was whales and dolphins. With no previous teaching experience between the three of us, the first lesson was quite overwhelming, however the second lesson flowed better and we were more relaxed. It was fulfilling to see the children retaining the information particularly because they had to listen to it in English and in Portuguese. They were rewarded with pencils/pens for correct answers and our reward was their beaming smiles! We also managed to fit some fun educational games into the classes to reinforce the learning. The best of these was the echolocation game simulating how dolphins find their prey using sounds and hearing. We could not have survived the week without our brilliant translator Pascal and his mini-me Helton! Now tired but happy and looking forward to some fun diving over the weekend.

Team 1 – Shayley, Katie W

This week we’ve been waking up bright and early to venture out to the fisheries to gather data on the size and species of what the local fisherman are reeling in. Along our 45 minute walks we’ve been continuously rewarded with more whale sightings. Although mysteriously there seemed to have been a lack of fish this week, we’ve remained dedicated, staking out in our tent and being vigilant in case any kayaks or boats go out. We did our first identifications on Wednesday, which included king barracuda, bluefin kingfish and green jobfish.

Alongside our all-day stake outs we’ve been raging a war on beach rubbish! The team have unanimously agreed to thrash the previous groups impressive effort of 76kg, with an ambitious aim of 100kg. If achieved, this would be an LTO program record. So far, we’re well on our way to our target, with a current total of 45.9kg. Boom!

Team Shay-tie (Shayley and Katie) are unstoppable and ready to take on teaching week!

 

Week 3

Team 2 – Lindsay, Katie, Melissa

Fisheries week began with a bright and early start. The 6am walks are always beautiful with the sun rising over the ocean. An added benefit was the calf toning that came with the 45-minute walk.

After skillfully setting up our beach tent we camped out and waited for the fishermen to bring in their first haul. The gill net always promised to have a good few fish to measure and photograph.

This fisheries week was especially busy as there was a fishing competition underway. Between running to local canoes and spear fishermen, we had to rush over to the South African boats to see what they had caught for the day.

The other site was slightly less busy on the fish front so we spent our time usefully by performing beach cleans. We managed to acquire 23kg bringing this programs total to 68.6kg of rubbish that will not be making its way into the ocean.

Many late nights and lots of coffee ensued while we identified all the fish of the day (the identifying often continued in our dreams/ nightmares). This week was very busy and tiring however we are all left with slightly browner (in some cases bright red) bodies, more toned legs and a greater knowledge of the local Mozambican fish.

Team 1 – Shayley, Katie W

Our theme for the week was ‘Sharks and Rays’, so we set out to make all the kids LOVE these amazing animals by the end of the week. The first day was a bit nerve-wracking, we didn’t know what to expect, but as we dove into our lessons we began to relax and really enjoy engaging with the kids. The trick to getting the kids to be actively participating is to have lots of fun activities! Day 1’s activity was a game of ‘Hungry Hungry Shark’ (Tubarão Faminto Come Fome). A self-made game where the sharks had to ‘eat’ either crabs, octopus or fish. The ‘prey’ had to move like their animal as they tried to escape, it was so funny!

Day 2 saw the kids absolutely nail a quiz on manta rays, and then we played ‘Musical Rays’, a remake of Musical Statues where the kids have to move like swimming manta rays to the music. It was great fun!

Day 3 was about how sharks and rays are made, so we had the kids mimic how scalloped hammerheads ‘dance’ to find a mate. We put on some Mozambique music (check out Mr Bow!) for them to dance to, then when the music stopped they had to pair up. Afterwards we showed them a video from BBC ‘Sharks’ of the hammerheads doing it in the wild, and you could literally see it blowing their minds! We also got them to mimic devil rays jumping out and slapping the water with their body. It was a very interactive lesson, and the kids were really engaged!

The last day of teaching was particularly memorable. We taught the kids about the importance of conserving the species we’d taught them about, which we could tell really made an impact on them. Then we got the kids into teams to do presentations on their favourite animal. Considering none of the kids had done presentations before they were all amazing! They’d taken in so much of what we’d taught them and it was so gratifying that all our hard work had been worth it.

We had such a fun week! Plus, we even picked up some Portuguese, although I’m not sure how useful Brânquias (gills) will be…

 

So far this programs been a blast! Time is flying by. Looking forward to diving and whale watching next week! Keep up the hard work guys!