July Program Week 3

Red Group: Joshua, Alfie, Hannah M, Bethany

After a weekend trip to Tofo for surfing, market browsing and eating cake, the group made a start on our first week of volunteering outside of the schools. This began with an early wake up to spend the day at Paindane fishery. It was a quiet day with few fishermen passing and fewer fish being caught. This made our life easier at the end of the day though as it meant we only had to do a quick log of the few fish caught and record the items we had collected on our beach clean during the walk home.

Tuesday saw another day of fisheries, though this time we were collecting data from Guinjata fishery. Due to a second day of windy and wavy conditions it was another relatively quiet session.

On Wednesday morning the majority of the group (Alfie, Hannah and Josh) completed the group’s first coral reef data collection session while Beanie went into the community with LTO’s in-country representative, Pascal, to collect data for her dissertation. After two successful dives, the rest of the day was spent looking over the footage and logging the species sighted.

Thursday was our second day at Guinjata fishery, though due to improved weather and resulting dive boats going out, the group got to do our first lot of humpback whale behaviour surveys. Hannah and Beanie were lucky enough to witness two whales breaching and fin slapping within 100 metres of the boat: It was an unforgettable morning. Despite the calmer conditions, it was another quiet day at the fishery.

Friday was spent at Paindane again but it was another very quiet day. This was made better by the fact that we knew pizza was being served for dinner. We are looking forward to more dives at the weekend as Alfie and Hannah will hopefully complete their PADI Advanced Open Water Dive courses.

Yellow group: Natalie, Sophie, Tom

Monday morning rose wet and windy for yellow group as they ventured beyond the comforts of Jay’s resort and out into the hectic world of teaching and painting. The time had come to put all the Sunday night planning into action, time to reveal the lesson plan! After a quick rollercoaster ride to Paindane School, we began a very therapeutic morning of painting the principal’s office. After a base coat was applied, we took on the task of outlining some marine animals on an outside wall of one of the classrooms, which would be finished off later in the week. By the time lunchtime came around, we had all worked up a huge appetite, and after a quick lunch it was classroom crunch time. Our topic was marine plastics, an issue at the forefront of modern day research and something sadly integrated into the daily lives of the children attending school. This was a hard-hitting topic for the LTO volunteers after the shock at the sheer amount of rubbish present on the beaches. Monday’s lessons introduced the idea of litter and highlighted key definitions to the kids alongside where it comes from and where it ends up, namely the oceans. Tuesday’s lessons built upon these ideas, developing the concepts by applying a marine twist and explaining how different items of litter degrade over different periods and how they may affect different marine creatures. Use of the handy mural painted by LTO allowed us to optimise the children’s learning experience. Wednesday and Thursday gave us an opportunity to evaluate our learning outcomes and adapt the lesson plan to present to a new audience to empower more children and preach the love of the ocean. The mornings were spent painting a new school sign on the back of the main building and broadening our Portuguese horizons by labelling sea creatures to inspire more of the up and coming Mozambique youth. With the weekend in sight, Natalie abandoned the rest of the team, drawn by the promise of KFC. We could really sense the children grasping the idea of stewardship by the end of our last lessons and could tell they were unintimidated by the task of cleaning up the world’s oceans, a great feeling that left us light hearted and hopeful for the future.

Blue group: Emma, Jason, Max

Had a great time surfing in Tofo on Sunday and bought some lovely souvenirs from the markets. It was Ailsa’s birthday so we had some amazing brownies, which was fab. We were also lucky to see the aftermath of a Mozambican wedding parading through the streets! Unfortunately the start of this week saw pretty rough weather which meant diving was not an option, and hardly any activity from the fisheries. Thursday we were back at Paindane. The weather was a lot more forgiving and we saw a good bit of sun. During the day we had an amazing front row view of many pods of whales literally around only 200m away. Binoculars were out! By the afternoon a few fisherman were ready to come in and we ended up with over 100 fish to photograph. On Friday we were separated as Jason had to get his visa extended, we had one dive in the morning were we could hear the songs of a mother and calf whale. The afternoon dive was an absolute whirlwind. A very strong surge meant sand was continuously blown up, meaning the visibility dropped so low we couldn’t even see each other form a meter away. This made the transect very interesting but amusing. Eventually it calmed down enough for us to finish and enjoy our well-earned lolly. Looking forward to swimming lessons and the weekend!

Green group: Ailsa, Kealan, Hannah R

After a weekend of diving, surfing and lots of cake we were all feeling well recovered for the week ahead. Unfortunately we got off to a bit of a slow start due to poor weather limiting some of our activities. Few fish were caught at either Guinjata or Paindane on our assigned days and our dive for the coral reef survey was called off on Tuesday due to the choppy conditions. Although this left our logging duties to the minimum we were ready to have some fishy action.

With the weather massively improving on Thursday we managed to get 2 dives in and lots of fish to ID from the coral reef surveys. We definitely feel like we’re becoming expert transect handlers with all this practise. However the main form of excitement came at the end of the first dive where a humpback whale was breaching no more than 10m away from our boat! I’m sure everyone back at the beach could hear Kealan’s ear piercing screams of joy as it leapt high from the ocean. I feel like I #lovetheoceans more every day.

The windy conditions have put everyone to a test this week, but it’s great to see the groups making the most of it by getting some extra whale watching in from shore. It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through the programme: We’ve seen so much development in the first three weeks, both individually and in the groups, so we’re very excited to follow the group for the last two weeks! For now, everyone’s excited for the weekend that kicked off with a pub quiz Friday, followed by swim lessons and ends with a full day of lounging in the sun on the yacht trip around the estuary Sunday!