Amy, Oisin and Shannon
Our schedule was changed up this week as we were assigned to the schools. This involved painting educational murals and teaching marine conservation lessons for 3 days at Guinjata Primary School and 2 days at Paindane Primary School.
We started the week at Guinjata School and our lessons theme for the week was turtles! In keeping with this we decided that our educational mural would be the process of turtle nesting. Varying degrees of artistic abilities were put to work over the three days and we are so pleased with the final product! We structured our lessons to teach our classes about the basics of turtles, their habitat and diet, and threats and conservation of turtles. At the end of the last lesson we opened the class up for questions about anything and we got some really interesting ones; the kids were shocked that the only thing that ate sharks were other sharks (apart from humans!)! Through Pascal (the Community Outreach Manager) leading the lessons, and labelling the mural we have managed to pick up a few words of Portuguese, which was helpful as the lessons went on.
The final two days of our week were spent at Paindane School. We only had two days to do a mural, with the added stress of Oisin and Shannon not being there on Friday due to a visa run, but it all worked out and we ended up with another awesome mural (in our humble opinions). The photographers from the Photographers Without Borders workshop came with us to the school on Thursday and snapped us artists in action. Overall the teaching went well, although we had one class of 97 kids, which was an experience to say the least!
Jim, Issy and Viktoria
The week started with fisheries for us in Paindane, so after a 5am get up, we took our usual 4K stroll along the beach to our post, unfortunately not greeted by the usual glorious sunrise. As the day panned out, this was a sign, the lack of fishermen out and about, obviously heeded ahead of us. We actually had more LTO people (Staff, Photographers Without Border’s group & lastly of all, us Volunteers) there than fishermen, with only 1 boat out that day and 10 fish caught. The upside was we found some shade behind a truck to shelter from the hot winter sun here and we made a new friend with Bernardo the fisherman, who now sends us pictures of fish on a regular basis. A very nice, genuine and hardworking man who brought a smile to our faces.
The joy of the fisheries really lies there for us, getting to know the local fishermen better every week, along with seeing the rich biodiversity of this ocean, although admittedly better observed underwater when they are alive. Jack and Dudu were another such encounter that filled our time whilst the waiting on the fisherman on Guinjata to bring in their catch to be able to exist. Both 21 years old and speak 6 languages, one being English and we spent the time comparing cultures, music taste and jokes, with them not able to believe there is only one language spoken in the UK and that we weren’t South African. Their resourcefulness, experiences and future plans at such a young age though put the gap in our cultures into perspective.
The diving and snorkelling this week has definitely moved up a notch with the arrival of the whales to the area. The strong surge is still ever present, but we are getting to grips with this better the more we dive here. The underwater surveys aren’t so foreign to us anymore either, both go to make it a smoother process all round. We even passed our transect tape directly over a common octopus which elegantly told us we should move on with its striking array of colour changes. With the surface activity of the whales, although still sporadic to the norm apparently, is definitely more common place with breaches, blows and fin slaps a welcome distraction on the horizon. The culmination of this increased activity was at a 5m safety stop whilst diving, we waited for our clocks to count down when we were consumed by the sound of a mother and a calf communicating, it was so loud with clicks and grunts and then the song broke through of a male, with an ever increasing rumbling noise as a back drop. ‘Other worldly’ and ‘truly magical’ was the best way to describe it. The hope of seeing these majestic giants appearing out of the murky water never materialised, but needless to say we were buzzing for a good few hours afterwards with a memory of something we want more of in our lives. All in all the week has passed well, the data logging is not taking so long after our day as we are more efficient and know our subjects better through the learnings and support from the LTO staff.
A storm is expected this weekend with the winds definitely picking up today (Friday), which may curtail the weekend diving plans. The parts to fix the broken hydrophone have arrived, we’re excited to finally learn more about how to work this bit of kit, access greater analysis and understanding of the amazing vocalisations we experience earlier this week. However sharks and rays will be our immediate focus for the week ahead, as we take our turn planning and delivering lessons and giving our best shot at a mural, with a week at the schools next week, wish us luck!
Josh, Megan and Rhiannon
Sunday was our first day trip as a group to Tofo, which was filled with surfing, haggling, cake and more cake! 🍰
The whales have finally made an appearance in Guinjata bay and since then they have been breaching for the stars!
Whilst on the dive on Wednesday, Megan and Josh shared the same waters as a mother and calf who were singing the whole 40 minutes. It was an incredible experience to hear them as they were only 30 meters away. From the surface Rhiannon witnessed the mother and calf swimming around the boat – absolutely breath-taking!
This week was especially important for Megan as she was finally initiated into the Dream Team after her 10 day trial. This means only one thing: hook hearts all round ❤
Conservation Adventure Program – Krystal and Rhiannon
Today marks the end of week two of our three week Conservation Adventure Program and we are buzzing from the week that was! We ended our weekend on a high with a trip to the local tourist town of Tofo filled with good food and topped off with a surf lesson. This week we also kicked our coral reef surveying skills into gear with two dives and completed two ocean safaris for whale data collection. We were extremely lucky during both ocean safaris, where humpbacks were out in high numbers communicating with pectoral slaps, tail lobbing and breaching a plenty; not only providing great data but a fantastic experience for us.
We can’t believe we are so far through this program already – time is flying! Last weekend we had a great day out in Tofo; surf, sun and sea – need we say more? Over the last three weeks our volunteers have gotten increasingly more confident, and we are really looking forward to following them over the next two weeks.