We fell in love with Mozambique from the moment the vibes were felt after landing at Inhambane Airport. Our new home, Palm Resort, set in the dunes of Guinjata Bay has a tranquil, laidback atmosphere, the perfect setting for a marine conservation expedition.
Our first week has been full of learning about the gathering of valuable research data and how it will be used to ultimately create a Marine Protected Area for Jangamo. The staff at LTO have a wealth of knowledge from across the marine sector and are all enthusiastic and welcoming. Francesca is awesome, what she has achieved over the past 8 years is inspiring and the partners involved in pulling it all together are equally committed and amazing!
Our learning experience began with the story of how LTO was formed, the purpose of the organisation, how important the work is for the local community and how it has grown. We finished the day with a beach clean and the daily catch-up with the whole LTO crew over dinner.
Day two we learnt about allyship, delved into our personal privileges, and thought about how allyship is a continuous process where we learn and grow. We learnt about the Community Outreach Projects, including the swimming program where LTO is teaching the local primary schools’ children how to swim. As part of the LTO’s Ocean Conservation Champion (OCC) Program, LTO’s new swimming instructor Rob is training two OCC Champions, Bento and Mario, how to be swimming instructors themselves.
Before heading to Paindane early Wednesday morning, we learnt about the local fisheries, how to gather data and how to appear friendly and approachable to the fishermen. Wednesday morning was a crazy early start, we left at 5.45am! But it was worth it, the sunrise was beautiful, and we gathered data from kayakers, spear fishermen and those fishing with nets on the reef. Even managed a cheeky beach clean.
After lunch we learnt how the local tropical climate and ocean conditions ensure nutrient rich waters with a bountiful supply of zooplankton blooms to feed the resident and migrating populations of amazing megafauna. We have already seen mother and calf humpback whales breaching, fin slapping and showing off their peduncle throws, casually sat on the veranda of our palm leaf beach hut.
Thursday morning began with a ‘check dive’ for the staff to check our skills underwater. After lunch we practised on the beach for our first ‘transect dive’. A 25metre long transect at 14m depth using a GoPro to record the fish, coral and other marine fauna and flora, which we will later identify and record. This data is used to contribute to LTOs vast database on coral reef ecosystem health. After the dive, we were lucky enough to witness a mother and calf humpback whale surfacing less than 10 metres from the boat.
Friday morning was spent SUPing in the shallows along Paindane Bay. It was windy and we were battling against the tide, but we agreed that if we can paddle standing in these conditions, we can take it on anywhere!
We finished the week off with a beautiful sunset with the whole LTO crew on the dunes at Top of the World. It was wholesome, and all-round good vibes were felt.
Shane, Bennath, Emily and Bex