July Program Week 2

Blue Group – Emma, Jason, Max

What a crazy week. We started the official programme after our initial training week and were split into four groups. Blue group for the win! 😉 Our days have been divided between fisheries research, coral reef and whale surveying, switching between them each day. Every evening meal has been absolutely delicious, but nothing can beat the local Matapa!

Our first day we were allocated to fisheries research at Pandaine Bay. It was a very early start but well worth the walk during sunrise. Our day was very chilled as the sea was too rough so no fisherman appeared, so we just sat back and soaked in the sun and view instead.

Next we spent a day whale watching and doing fisheries at Guinjata bay just a 10 minute walk from our accommodation. Unfortunately all three of us get seasick which is a challenge, but thankfully sucking on a lolly saves the day. We didn’t have much luck seeing whales but logged a few fish at Guinjata.

Coral reef surveying was a very interesting day. During our first dive we were able to hear multiple humpback whales singing! However, during our second dive a mix of strong surge and current flew us around, but we finally managed to finish our work. This was then followed by a tiring evening of logging our washing machine data and footage.

On Thursday we did another whale watching bout, again coming up sadly short, although spearfishermen brought up an electric ray and a trumpetfish.

We ended the week where we began, at Paindane. The sea became a lot more calm during the week so we saw a lot more fish this time, including a Dorado and a scalloped hammerhead! After retrieving the vertebrae we were luckily able to dissect and learn a lot about the anatomy and science of it.

The weekends are our time off and we’re all looking forward to a bit of surfing (hopefully) and visiting Tofo on Sunday!

Green Group – Hannah R, Kealan, Ailsa

We started off the week with coral reef surveys so after what seemed like years of bad weather we were all eager to finally get some dives in. The surge had other plans though making collecting the data quite challenging but it did give us some good laughs when reviewing the footage – lots of upside down shots provided by our one and only Kealan. Not sure he’ll be trying out underwater photography anytime soon. However being the snorkeler on the first dive paid off when we saw a whale shark swim under our boat! For once the divers were jealous. Ha.

The next day saw us assigned to fisheries duty where we had to make the 5am trek to Paindane beach. After battling through the morning wind and the rain we finally made it so a well-deserved nap was needed. After a long day of diving the previous no one was complaining about chilling on a beach for the day (aka working on our tans so it looks like we’ve actually been to Africa).

Most of the day no fish were caught so we decided to head out and catch some ourselves (see photo). The rest of the day was spent playing some intense games of eye-spy and a lot of DMCs were had. Finally, as we were packing up our efforts of randomly shouting peixe (fish) at people were rewarded when a group of spear fishermen kindly let us measure and take photos of their catch.

On Wednesday we were assigned to whale watching duty and fisheries at Guinjata bay. Unfortunately due to a volleyball related injury our team was one member down so the remaining members, Hannah and Kealan, were left to pick up the slack. The fisheries saw a busier day than at Paindane with catches including lobster, octopus and moray eels. On the second whale-watching excursion of the day we were even lucky enough to see two humpback whales, only 10m away from the boat!  The day was finished off with an endless supply of Matapa, one of the finest dishes of local cuisine the restaurant has to offer, a definite must try.

The week ended with a trip back to Paindane on Thursday and some more diving for the coral reef surveys on Friday. At Paindane we managed to log an impressive 101 fish! We also made a new Mozambican friend who decided to give us a beach lecture about the history of Mozambique. He also has a great name. Nando. Got to love a good Nando. Diving on Friday in some great conditions was also not such a bad end to our second week with Love The Oceans.

Red Group – Bethany, Alfie, Joshua, Hannah M

On Monday we had planned a lesson at Guinjata school on sharks and painted the exterior walls of the principal’s office. Photographers without Borders representatives filmed us teaching the first lesson to put into their documentary to teach about what Love The Oceans is all about.

Tuesday, we finished our murals on the teachers’ walls, and went back to teach a few lessons on rays, which went quite a bit better than the day before due to our increase of confidence with the material. Alfie had the song “It’s coming home!” stuck in his head and ended up teaching the kids the words. Since it was football night, some of us watched the football at the bar, while everyone else played card games. Dinner had greeted us with a traditional Portuguese dish, Feijão (Portuguese Beans).

Wednesday, we changed over to Paindane school and started to fill in paintings that had been started. Since we had time, we ended up teaching one kid the Macarena. Dinner for the night was another traditional dish, Matapa, which is always thoroughly enjoyed by almost everyone. It was another football night, unfortunately disappointing that England lost the semi-final.

Thursday, we finished the murals that we had previously started at Paindane and the crest on the Mozambican flag. We had taught a new group of kids about rays and our educational games were well received by the kids who enjoyed everything we had taught them.

Friday was the last day at the schools and it seemed like it was the hottest day of the week. We had decided to draw up some ideas for a new wall that included the Mission Statement, Values and Vision of the school, decorating it with small fish. We finished off the day with our last two lectures on sharks which the kids were quite involved with. After we finished we ended up singing and dancing, both Western and local songs with the kids, and having some of them teach us a few Bitonga words.

Yellow Group – Tom, Sophie, Natalie

We had a gentle start to the first week of work, with no whales spotted whale watching and only 2 fish caught in Guinjata bay, followed by a day of diving. Both of our diving days had a lot of surge (footage almost made us seasick) but it was great to get in the water.

The early start for Paindane bay fishery duty was made worthwhile by an incredible sunrise and the weather was so good one member of the group got a bit sunburnt… On our way back we found a mystery white pouch. Please leave suggestions as to what it is in the comments below.

We finished with a fish-filled Friday! Our second day of Guinjata fisheries couldn’t have been more different to the first, with over 250 individuals recorded. A particularly interesting method of catch was used, we think the fishermen used a toxin from a plant to kill fish they had herded into a net by drumming with sticks in the tide pools. We also ran into a tiny puppy.

We’re off to a flying start on the research programme! It’s been great to get out into the field this week for both staff and volunteers – and we are very excited for the coming weeks. Over the past week we’ve been very impressed with the teams who have shown up smiling (even at 5:45 am), powered on through seasickness, tackled tricky diving conditions and gotten stuck into the fish ID!