July Program Week 5

Red Group: Alfie, Bethany, Hannah M, Joshua
Monday was nice at Guinjata, but it was a relatively quiet day with few fish. As the sea was calm the group was able to deploy the hydrophone for the first time and so got to experience humpback whale vocalisations in real time.
On Tuesday we went back into the deep blue sea again for our penultimate coral reef transect dive. We were all really sad that this was one of our final dives and working out the logistics of the final dive arrangement (primarily who would snorkel) were significantly more difficult than usual. On the dive drop Beanie, Hannah and Joshua had the extreme luck of dropping right next to a beautiful humpback mother and baby. Alfie was upset because he did not get to see the whales on the drop (he’d already seen one, but he wanted to see a baby L). The girls and Josh were noticeably happy when they came up from their dive and it was definitely a great experience as you could see how close in proximity the whales were (even from the surface). Overall it was a good day of transects but it was basically a drift dive on the second dive.
On Wednesday Guinjata was nice again. During their whale watching session on the boat, Hannah and Beanie saw a tiny humpback baby learning to breach with its mother which was very sweet.
On Thursday the group beat the fish record at Paindane fishery with 1307 halfbeak fish! Once these had been counted the rest of the day was quiet.
The group completed our final transect dives on Friday (it was very interesting and there was a plethora of fish – logging was fun). Alfie and Hannah had a rock, paper scissors war to decide who would snorkel on the second, and final, dive – Alfie won for the first time ever.

Green Group: Ailsa, Kealan, Hannah R
On Saturday we managed to get our first fun dive as a whole group so we considered that a success. We were taken to the famous Manta Reef site where unfortunately luck was not with us and so we didn’t see any mantas. However we all still enjoyed it, especially as Kealan was given a bigger tank so the dive actually lasted longer than 20 minutes!
After a night of drinking in moderation everyone was looking forward to a chilled out Sunday. Fuelled by waffles and pancakes some of us were even lucky enough to have our very own private ocean safari (curtsey of our number one Jay) where we were lucky enough to see dolphins swimming with the humpback whales! Even the LTO staff admitted they hadn’t seen that before.
Back to work on Monday and Tuesday saw us logging fish from Guinjata and Paindane fisheries into the late hours of the night. Some very weird fish were caught that not even our resident fish ID expert Mat could identify.
The rest of our week was spent at Paindane Primary School finishing off our artistic masterpieces and teaching the children some important life skills, like how to floss. We also gave a few lessons about marine litter that Pascal, our translator, helped us spice up a bit.
We’re all now feeling a bit emotional with our last weekend looming. Hopefully our last dives give us a good send-off and pray the UK finds a way to import matapa leaves. Finishing off with a trip to Sunset Lodge with pizza and burgers isn’t a bad way to end the trip.
Well Love The Oceans; it’s been a pleasure. Until next time. Green group over and out.

Blue Group: Emma, Jason, Max
We’ve had such an exciting final week! We began the week teaching in Guinjata School on Monday and Tuesday. Hopefully we didn’t bore the kids too much about marine litter! To spice up the lessons we added a few games which went down well. We then had the next three days for each activity for the last time. At Paindane we were able to have an amazing snorkel and a bittersweet goodbye to the beach. To top off our goodbyes to the programme we were lucky enough to swim with a whale shark!!! It was an absolutely amazing experience for all of us and we couldn’t stop grinning for the rest of the day! Blue group had a celebratory pizza whilst logging our final coral reef transect survey. Friday also had its own charm allowing us to swim with a humpback whale! Needless to say whale watching was pretty easy. As our logging has come to an end we’re all looking forward to our final dives tomorrow and an evening leaving do.

Yellow Group: Natalie, Sophie, Tom
Yellow group had diving on two days this week, and on both of the days we experienced relatively calm conditions, leaving us with plenty of air to fit in some fun diving at the end of them.
We were also lucky enough to have Paindane twice this week! Tuesday was a little cloudy but brought up an interesting haul of tropical halfbeaks which kept us occupied. Friday was a beautiful day, we topped up our tans and witnessed some sandy shark dissection. Suitably tanned and tired, we scraped shark vertebrae before completing the last log and blog of this trip. We’ll miss this.

The last five weeks have flown by and we can’t believe it’s time to say goodbye to our July group: July has been a month of highs and lows with bad weather interrupting both lectures (no electricity) and field work (no diving, whale watching or fisheries because of wind), but also incredible humpback whale sightings (humpbacks on scuba multiple times!) and multiple whale shark sightings in the area. We hope you have all enjoyed your time here – we’ve definitely enjoyed having you. We’re thoroughly impressed with how the group has developed over the past 5 weeks, and it’s been great to see how well everyone has been getting on. Thanks for the last 5 weeks and the lovely goodbye note. Hope you enjoy the rest of your summer – and hopefully see you back soon!

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