This week poor weather conditions allowed us to focus on Fisheries and Whale Watching research. Monday and Thursday we headed out to Paindane Fisheries, Monday was a bit of a bit of a washout. It was too rough for the fishermen to go out, and we were truly battered by the sand! But #NoDataIsStillData! Soon to be found on a t-shirt in a shop near you! 😉
We arrived back home for dinner and met the newest edition to the crew, Mya. She is working with Rob the swim instructor trainer, as a swim instructor alongside Pascal, Bento and Mario. Mya fitted straight into the LTO gang and is loving making a difference with the local children, whom she describes as adorable, polite, and fast learning!
On Thursday after being accompanied by a beautiful sunrise on our walk to Paindane, there were a few fishermen out, and we gathered some important data. They kindly allowed us to collect our measurements.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday we were split into two groups and alternated between whale watching and gathering data at Guinjata Fisheries. A short 20 minute walk from the dive centre rather than an hour to Paindane. If we were on the morning whale watching duty, we headed out on the boat with a hydrophone, recorder, and a clipboard. The hydrophone was dropped 9metres and used to listen for humpback whale calling and songs, which we matched with the surface behaviour if there was any. All visual observations were noted, with distance from the boat. Emily and Bennath saw a mother and calf ‘logging’ (floating and sleeping at the surface), 20metres from the boat. On the way to the observation site, Shane and Bex saw a whale breach five times, 100metres in front of the boat. Amazing! The hydrophone delivered ample whale song.
In the afternoon, whale watching was carried out from a balcony at 26metres elevation. The extensive ocean view allowed us to get almost continuous observations, which were hastily recorded. On Friday afternoon Bex excitedly narrated a calf breaching 15 times over the course of 10 minutes!
Friday was the first day of calm weather of the week and the fishermen took advantage. In the morning Shane and Bex gathered data for lobsters, a large bag of mussels, another large bag of oysters, some king mackerel, and another juvenile scalloped hammerhead shark.
The weekend is our opportunity to choose our own agenda, and on Saturday we were able to dive again as the weather had turned 😊 😊 Bennath, Emily and Shane chose fun dives where we took our GoPro and Sealife Micro and got some cool footage and underwater selfies! Bennath, after being nervous about having troubles equalising, got her PB in descending and then spotted an octopus!
Bex chose to start her Advanced Open Water PADI training, with a deep dive and a navigation skills dive. Her buddy was Sarah, a participant from the Blu Wild Expeditions with Madeline St Clair (another awesome inspiring human / marine biologist, expedition leader and frankly an ocean celeb). Saturday was Sarah’s birthday, bringing luck on the dive. We saw a grey spotted guitarfish bury itself in the sand leaving just its spiracles (basically nostrils on top of its head) to reveal its location. A huge bull ray surprised us from above, and Bex saw the muscular tail of what she thinks was a shark – so awesome!! Back on the boat we were blown away by a humpback whale calf breaching just 20metres from us! He continued to show off breaching before we headed ashore.
It was really cool to bond with the Blu Wild Expeditions crew later that evening, who are also living alongside us at Palm Resort, as we celebrated Sarah’s 30th birthday and danced and partied until late.
We are all making progress with our diving and can’t wait for next week to carry on with underwater surveys.
Bennath, Bex, Emily, Mya and Shane