May/June Week 1

We started the week with a great introduction into the program, everything the program stands for, how it came about and how LTO aims to fulfil it’s goals. The introduction made us automatically fall in love with the program, we really appreciated the bottom up approach LTO have. Everything is centred around the community and education of the next generation. The lectures covered most of the basic areas on marine biology and conservation but in a way that allowed us to link it all back to LTO’s aims and goals.
Areas that were covered in the teaching week were health and safety, the importance of
conservation and science with the social media. As a group who aren’t big on twitter or Instagram we were shown the importance of these mediums of communication and as scientists/environmentalists, it is integral to build a presence online and raise awareness for different areas we are passionate about. One of the biggest things we’ve learnt is that education is key, in all aspects of life. A really good example we experienced on the first day was when we did a beach clean and found an atrocious amount of cigarette buds. As we discussed this, we realised that it’s mainly because people just assume that they are simply made of paper and don’t have any plastic in them. The beach in general was covered in garbage but it was great to know at the end that we took this much out of the beach, a lot of which was brought up by the cyclone that had hit Guinjata bay early in the year.

Our days are really well structured; even though they are early starts it really doesn’t feel like it because we’re a group who are all really passionate about this and thus it doesn’t feel like work. The first 2 days were mainly lectures, this was really interesting as we learnt about fisheries, megafauna and coral reefs. We were taught the more general aspects of these areas ie. Maritime Law and the issues Mozambique faces as well as the more detailed area of learning to identify the different fish species, megafauna and coral species. We finished our second day watching Racing Extinction. We all have seen this film numerous times but each time it shocks us. I thought when the documentary focused on the village in Indonesia and their fishing of Manta rays; it really mirrored the work being done here. This is the livelihood people rely on and if you’re going to help,
the best way is to provide or suggest an alternative source of income. The documentary really resonated with a lot of us who are here just trying to make a difference. “It’s better to light one candle then curse the darkness”.

Our first-hands on work was when we walked down to Paindane beach to survey the catch brought in by the fisherman. It was a fairly quiet morning and as we left we saw some catch being brought in. That was a very interesting experience, the fisherman were all incredible friendly and helpful as we measured and took pictures of their catch. It was very eye opening that something as a group we weren’t really expecting, It taught us a lot in many ways. One of the best parts of this week was the cultural exchange, we went to Pascal’s community (our translator); this was just a beautiful place. Everyone was simply amazing, the kids would run around us and play games with us, while
everyone was just so welcoming and enjoyed us trying to speak Portugese and Bitonga. We also learnt a lot about the process of making matapa, a traditional Mozambican dish, the heart and soul that goes into this dish is amazing and it shows as it tastes delicious. We really appreciated being able to invited and welcomed into the community.

Diving here is unreal, the first dive of our training week was a fun dive. This was very useful as it allowed us to get familiar with the Guinjata dive centre guidelines, protocols as well as just get used to one of the dive sites. The second dive of the day was harder as we carried out our first coral reef survey. Even though we had practised the method numerous times, it was a lot harder when it came to doing it underwater. There was a little bit of a swell which made it harder, thankfully this was just a practise so we got our feedback and now we have tips to increase our efficiency when we carry out these surveys. All in all the dives were beautiful, we saw pipefish, loads of nudibranchs, butterflyfish, triggerfish, surgeon fish and moray eels.

The week ended with our second beach clean of the week, as we did this we started thinking of ways we could help educate the public and raise awareness of the amount of littering that happens and break down exactly what happens when that garbage does go into the sea. Therefore we decided to put together a poster and it will go up around Guinjata dive centre to hopefully remind people that the ocean isn’t their ash tray. We also did the school visits today which was a nice introduction to our next week of teaching marine areas at the schools and helping to paint around the schools. We really enjoyed the school visits as the kids were just so excited. We can’t wait to start next week and share our passion for the marine world.

With training week now coming to a close, everyone seems excited to get to work! Lectures at the beginning of the week followed by in the field practicals, built the foundation the volunteers will use for the next four weeks. While this weekend should be laid back with optional fun dives to Manta Reef and surf lessons in Tofo, the volunteers will still wedge in time to plan school lessons for teaching week next week!

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