Sun, sand, sea and a whole bunch of marine creatures. What an experience! We’ve already had the chance to dive on one of the world’s finest coral reefs, had a taste of the delicious Mozambican cuisine, spent an afternoon learning a local’s way of life (including coconut tree climbing!) and so much more. The locals are very welcoming, friendly and always looking to sell beautifully handmade souvenirs, which one of us in particular is very partial to (ahem Antoni;)).
While jump-starting another car on the bumpy road down to the resort may not have been the start to the trip we expected, it’s safe to say we were immediately immersed into the Mozambican way of life!
Upon arrival at the resort, all most of us wanted to do was go for a much needed cool down in the sea. After realising that the sea may not always be our friend (RIP Lily’s snorkel), we headed up for some well-earned rest at our palm leaf hotel which we would call home for the next fortnight.
The week started with a packed first day of lectures learning everything we needed to know about fisheries and corals to ocean trash and whale sharks in the hope we’d be lucky enough to encounter the gentle giants on our doorstep (fingers are still crossed!)
Tuesday began with the boat taking us offshore where, loaded with dive gear, we took our first dramatic drop into the Indian ocean for coral reef survey number one. We practised our transect and GPS technique following run-throughs on the sand and managed to go through everything without too many hiccups!
A trip to the two local schools followed that afternoon to meet the teachers and find inspiration for our mural from the colourful artworks of the human body to the ocean depths already adorning many of the classroom walls. Children clamoured at the classroom windows to greet us and we gave high fives, said lots of holas and one boy even took my sunglasses to try on just before we left!
The next stop on our cultural tour took us among the palm trees to Pascal’s (Love The Oceans Community Outreach Manager) house. After marvelling at the water balancing abilities of the locals and trying our hand at weaving palm leaves, (we were not naturals!) we settled down to enjoy fresh coconuts and home cooked cuisine in between entertaining the kids with yoga and playing catch with a cuddly toy fish (very on theme!). After trying roasted cashews and peanuts fresh from the ground, we also came to the epiphany that peanuts are called peanuts because they taste like peas!! (Who knew?!)
On Wednesday we went to check out the fishery site for the first time which involved counting boats and lots of sitting in the sunshine waiting for the fishermen to come in. We even built a team sand sculpture in the shape of a turtle (or ‘tartaruga’ in Portuguese!) decorated with pretty cowrie shells. After a dive when we got back, the afternoon was mostly spent logging which was made all the more bearable by chats about Nemo and yummy chip butties.
Armed with all the knowledge from our first 3 days of preparation, by Thursday we were ready to take on fisheries research by ourselves. The 3 of us set off for Paindane fishery just before 6am (not as bad as it sounds!) and we were soon hit with a downpour of humid rain. With Antoni playing ‘Heigh ho’ (song of Snow White’s 7 dwarves!) on his phone to power us through the sandy beach walk, spirits were high as we motivated ourselves for the day ahead. After a quiet morning of fishing activity, the jackpot arrived at 2 in the afternoon when some fishermen came in on a boat with over 150 fish! Needless to say, we were kept very busy counting and measuring as many of them as we could before it was time for the fishermen to take them home.
Friday was spent doing what we know and love: diving and snorkelling. Much to the motto pinned to the walls of Jay’s Dive Shop, ‘Eat, Sleep, Dive’, we hit the waves bright and early and stopped for a coffee break and a bite to eat before our second dive before lunchtime. The first dive was a battle against the current (which wasn’t helped by an undesirable snap in the transect tape!) but we managed a much more successful second dive and saw an array of triggerfish, corals and lots of jellies near the surface. We can’t wait for what the next week has in store for us!
Lily, Antoni & David
It’s been an absolute pleasure having Lily, Antoni and David on site with us here in Mozambique and we can’t believe we’re halfway through this program already! We’re excited and keen to get started on next week!