Consumer Rights Day: Time to Demand Change

Throughout 2018 our marine biologists here at Love The Oceans will be doing blog posts on topics of Named Days throughout the year. To keep up to date, follow this blog, also found under the ‘News’ tab on our website. Without further ado, in celebration of Consumer Rights Day, I introduce our fifth blog in this marine series:

Consumer Rights Day: Time to Demand Change

Today is Consumer Rights Day. What’s Consumer Rights Day I hear you ask? Well, it’s a chance for us all to raise awareness about our consumer rights and needs. Today we’re going to focus on the consumer rights surrounding the plastic problem – a problem that we unfortunately, are all too familiar with.


We live in a society today that has moved towards single-use plastics because they are convenient and easy. A plastic bag is used for 25 minutes on average but takes between 100-500 years to disintegrate. It’s a terrible design and somehow this has caught on – around 1 million plastic bags are in use around the world every minute. We’ve all watched seen the documentaries and heard about the plastic problem facing modern society but how do we go about tackling it? We hear a lot about how we need to change our ways. But what about the supermarkets and large chain stores that supply us with our food and clothes? It’s virtually impossible to live a normal life, shop cheap and still be able to shop plastic free. Walk down any shopping aisle and most food is sold in plastic containers (apart from the new plastic-free aisles in the Netherlands…yay!). So how on earth are we meant to be able to swap to a plastic free lifestyle? Well. That’s where Consumer Rights Day comes in.

This is our chance to stand up and ask our suppliers, our supermarkets and stores to stock plastic free products. There are loads of alternatives that are possible. I mean, for one thing just swapping out plastic bags for the good old paper bags would go a long way. There are now lots of plastic alternatives coming to the market. And if we can’t completely cut our plastic addiction, there are middle grounds, like plastic additives such as Prodegradant Concentrates (PDCs). As these disintegrate, they turn into CO2, water and biomass that contains no harmful residues. While the additives are not completely biodegradable, PDC-containing polymers are more eco-friendly that our current single-use plastics.

There are also plastic alternatives like milk proteins, chicken feathers (I know!), liquid wood and a selection of polyesters which could all be used to replace plastic (you can read more about these here). So why aren’t suppliers using these? Plastic is cheap and there isn’t enough demand for plastic-free products. Well, the tide is a-changing and the time is a-coming. It’s now that we have to take action and empower our Consumer Rights. It’s time to boycott plastics and show we aren’t OK with the planet being wrecked for ‘convenience’.

Note: this is how long it takes it to break down (into things like micro-plastics). It does not just disappear after this amount of time! 

Boycotting plastics is the only way that suppliers will change their ways. They meet the demand of their buyers, that is how their business functions. If products suddenly stop selling, they’ll stop stocking it. So, we need to STOP BUYING PLASTICS. And we need to SHOUT ABOUT THIS UNTIL EVERYONE STOPS BUYING PLASTICS. Go for some cool alternatives like:

  • Bamboo toothbrushes – these are cheap! And you can just order them online
  • Go back to your milk man. We used to be more sustainable and promote job creation through this! Find your local milk man and put your order in today.
  • Avoid plastics, save money and cut food waste all at the same time with OddBox.
  • Swap to a re-usable water bottle. Buy yours here (and help save the oceans!).
  • Swap to a re-usable coffee cup and look stylish, save the planet and save money on your daily coffee with EcoffeeCup

If you’re feeling brave, you could even take up Plastic Free Me’s challenge and go Plastic Free for one month! 80% of marine litter is plastic. Joining beach cleans is an easy way to directly combat the problem. Sea Shepherd are running beach cleans all over the world. Sea Shepherd UK is running beach cleans at over 30 locations in the UK alone! Here at Love The Oceans we’ve committed to removing over 100kg of trash from the beaches and oceans in 2018 PLUS whatever has been pledged online – we commit to removing 2kg of trash for every item bought off our website, no matter how big or how small. Want to help? Buy your item here.

Screen Shot 2017-12-26 at 12.32.55

At the end of the day, we’re not asking you to go completely plastic free (although please do if you can!), but we’re asking you to make small lifestyle changes that will change what suppliers sell us as ‘convenient’ and will combat ocean plastics. Whether it’s shopping from ethical brands that use eco-friendly packaging or swapping your plastic bag for a paper or tote bag, all these small changes make a big difference if we all do them.


Sun, Sea and Turtles: Solar Appreciation Day

Throughout 2018 our marine biologists here at Love The Oceans will be doing blog posts on topics of Named Days throughout the year. To keep up to date, follow this blog, also found under the ‘News’ tab on our website. Without further ado, in celebration of Solar Appreciation Day, I introduce our fourth blog in this marine series:

Sun, Sea and Turtles: Solar Appreciation Day

Today is Solar Appreciation Day, a day where we can all appreciate the star that our lives revolve around (literally)! I know what you’re thinking, why on earth is a marine conservation organisation celebrating Solar Appreciation Day?! Solar has nothing to do with marine conservation. Well, it does. And here’s why:

The sun influences a huge array of ocean activities. Besides the obvious like providing energy for photosynthesis and warming the planet, it does lots of small things too, like regulating the diel vertical migration of organisms like copepods, squid and fish, which is actually the greatest biomass migration in the entire world (DVM is when animals move up to the surface at night and descend back down to the depths during the day). Solar has an enormous impact on every ocean activity that it would be impossible to cover them all in one blog, so for the purposes of today’s post, we’re going to focus on the influence of solar on sea turtles.

Surf School

There are 7 species of sea turtles on this planet, 5 of which reside in Mozambique. All 7 species are listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable on the IUCN Redlist, with the exception of the Flatback sea turtle that is Data Deficient. The 5 species in Mozambique are: Leatherbacks, Loggerheads, Green Turtles, Hawksbills and Olive Ridleys, all of which are threatened worldwide and have been protected in Mozambique for over 45 years.

These animals are pretty spectacular creatures and they’re reliant on solar energy from beginning to end. Peak nesting season in Mozambique is in March and we’ve been lucky enough to witness a hatching event already this year! The sun partially controls tides and the space between high tide and where the vegetation begins is where turtles lay their nests. Nesting usually occurs at night and these huge animals crawl up the beach, dig a hole and lay up to 300 eggs in one clutch and a female typically lays around 1 – 8 clutches per season. They then cover up the hole and make their way back to the sea. During 2 weeks of their incubation period, the temperature of the sand determines their sex. In this way, solar influences them right from the beginning, as warmer sand (>30°C) will mean the clutch hatches female, and cooler sand (<27°C) will result in a male bale. Turtles also rely on solar for body temperature regulation to some degree throughout their lives too. Most sea turtles are poikilotherms which means their body temperature varies largely. Turtles are reptiles and although they’re not fully cold-blooded, green turtles in particular have been known to haul their bodies out of the water to warm up in the sun on rocks.

Turtle Hatching Source

The babies emerge from nests after around 60 days and make their way back to the sea where they drift in the ocean for most of their juvenile years feeding on small floating organisms – hence the importance of events like the diel vertical migration. Unfortunately, they have so many predators and threats that even once they’re in the ocean only around 1 in 1000 hatchlings survive to adulthood. It is thought that the location they’re born in is imprinted in their olfactory organ which means they often return to their birth site to lay their eggs. Loggerheads, which we had most recently on our beaches, reach sexual maturity at around 25 years old so it’s pretty impressive they can remember their birth beach for that long!

So why are turtles so important and why have we focussed on them today?  We have sea grass in our bay, which is awesome and a big indicator of nursery grounds. Sea grass is really important for juvenile fish development and turtles graze on sea grass, which maintains its health and encourages growth.

Turtles are really important in maintaining a balanced marine ecosystem. Leatherbacks prey predominantly on jellyfish. This is really important as jellyfish blooms are a common occurrence in imbalanced ecosystems. Leatherbacks are key in controlling these blooms and ensuring re-balance. On top of this, other species feed on bottom-dwelling organisms with hard shells. Through crushing these shells and discarding the pieces this boosts nutrient recycling and the foraging behaviour affects seabed compaction and aeration.

Leatherback feasting on a jellyfish. Image from Brian Skerry

We’re privileged enough to have these amazing animals in Mozambique and we know for a fact they nest on our beach right in front of our base.  We feel passionately about protecting them and we’ve seen some nests have been raided. Given the low survival rate of these animals, we want to ensure they at least make it to the ocean! LTO has designed a turtle patrol protocol and we’ll be running turtle patrols with our marine biologists throughout March and April on our programs. If you’d like to join us on these in Mozambique please click here.

Turtles are just some of the animals that rely on solar energy to survive. Solar is so important for so many animals as well as a providing an alternate energy source which reduces the exploitation of the seas through the likes of oil rigs.

So, we would like you to join us in celebrating #solarappreciationday today and its importance in conservation efforts…

“The sun doesn’t struggle to rise and neither should we!”

International Women’s Day: #Pressforprogress in Conservation

Throughout 2018 our marine biologists here at Love The Oceans will be doing blog posts on topics of Named Days throughout the year. To keep up to date, follow this blog, also found under the ‘News’ tab on our website. Without further ado, in celebration of International Women’s Day, I introduce our third blog in this marine series:

International Women’s Day: #Pressforprogress in Conservation

March 8th is International Women’s Day. Although the name suggests that today is only a celebration for women, there is reason to celebrate for us all, irrespective of gender! One of the things that we can celebrate today is that gender equality is no longer exclusively a women’s fight, but rather a fight by society for the benefit of all. Women are powerful and have the potential to do anything, even change the world, if they are empowered and given the opportunity – and when women are empowered it benefits us all.

While today is a day to reflect on and be grateful for how far we have come towards gender parity, it is also a day to acknowledge that though we’ve come far we still have a very long way to go.

In a world where most countries have established at least some form of gender equality, it’s quite easy to think: Do we really need to talk about women? (Usually with an emphasis on ‘really’, an implied ‘again?!’ and a whole lot of eye rolling). The answer is of course – Yes, we do.

So, why do we need to talk about women (again)? And how on earth does gender equality tie into conservation? Let’s start with why women’s issues are (still) important. Hopefully, you read our blog post for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science – if not, here’s a chance to catch up: Gender equality is vital for sustainable development because underrepresentation of women in professions such as science, social science and politics means that women are often left out of policy-making and programming decisions, effectively making it less likely that issues that affect women more severely than men are addressed and solved.


Mozambique is an excellent example of why addressing women’s issues is key to solving both national and global socio-economic problems such as poverty, malnutrition and HIV/AIDS:  Mozambique is ranked number 181 out of 188 countries on the Human Development Index assessed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); same rank as South Sudan that is still affected by Africa’s longest running civil war… Translated into real-world terms, Mozambique’s low HDI score of 0.418 means that Mozambicans have short life expectancies (55.5 years), poor access to knowledge (3.5 years on schooling on average) and very low income rates (Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is $1,098 – in comparison GNI in the UK is $38,901).

With a 12.1% deviation from gender parity based on the UNDP’s Gender Development Index (GDI), Mozambique is also among the countries in the world with the highest gender inequality. While 12.1% might sound quite harmless, it has extensive and detrimental real-world consequences:

National adult illiteracy rate in Mozambique is 62.5% for women compared to ‘only’ 33% for men. Illiteracy among women is three times higher in rural areas than in urban areas (78.4% versus 34%). While the difference between rural and urbanised areas does exist for men too it is far less marked (45% versus 18%). Just as literacy, school attendance is also significantly lower for women than for men, and lower in rural areas than in urban areas.

High illiteracy rates and low school attendance is not just problematic for the girls and women who have poor access to education – it also affects the rest of the community. Unequal access to education for girls and women leads to reduced income for their families, poor family planning, increased malnutrition, increased infant and maternal mortality and reduced public health; all highlighting the urgency of tackling the core issue of unequal access to education. Securing equal access to education is the first step towards establishing gender equality and ensuring a better life quality, not just for women, but for everyone in Mozambique.


In Mozambique education is mandatory from a child’s sixth birthday until the age of 12. Unfortunately, most children – especially in rural areas like the Jangamo district where Love The Oceans operates – never complete more than a few years of school. Education is free from age 6 to 8 years (Escola Primaria), and during secondary school (Escola Secundaria), age 8 through 12 years, the parents ‘only’ have to pay for the children’s books, school uniforms & maintenance fees. High school and universities exist in Mozambique, but few Mozambicans ever start, little less complete, any form of higher education.

In our region about 50% of men and 70% of women are illiterate. Girls are usually taken out of school when they have their first period and married shortly after. Boys are normally allowed to complete their mandatory years of schooling, but it is not unusual for families to take their sons out of school when they are 8-10 years old to help the family. The boys are sometimes sent back to school when they are about 13-15 years old to complete their last years of school.

One of the many challenges that schools in Mozambique face is a lack of resources: The class sizes range from 50-120 children, desks are expensive and therefore rare, and the school buildings are usually simple structures with concrete foundations, walls made out of palm fronds and tin roofs, or, at best, simple concrete buildings. The simple structure of the classrooms makes schools very vulnerable to tropical storms, such as the cyclone Dineo that hit Mozambique in February 2017.


When Dineo made landfall in southern Mozambique, the Inhambane Province got the brunt of the impact. As a result many of the school buildings in the province were either heavily damaged or completely destroyed. During our 2017 field season Love The Oceans helped rebuild classrooms at two of our local schools, Guinjata and Paindane, as part of our ongoing educational projects.

As part of Love The Oceans’ commitment to Conservation Through Research, Education and Diving, every year we deliver educational projects about sustainability, biology, sea safety and marine resource management at Guinjata and Paindane school. Our educational projects have currently been running for 3 years during which we have taught over 750 children in primary and secondary school. In addition to rebuilding the classrooms that were damaged during the cyclone, every year we build new classrooms, and repair and maintain existing classrooms to ensure that the schools have the best possible facilities. As part of our commitment to ethical volunteering, we support local businesses by employing local construction workers to maintain and build new school buildings.

As part of our educational projects, our volunteers paint educational murals that are used by the teachers instead of traditional teaching materials that are expensive and scarce in rural Mozambique. An unexpected, but very happy result of our construction and maintenance work, is that parents no longer have to pay the maintenance fees that they previously had to cover to send their children to school, which means that our educational projects are effectively sponsoring free education for around 1500 children. Many of these children are girls, who would otherwise be the first to be taken out of school if their parents could not afford the maintenance fee.


So, how about conservation? How does gender equality tie into conservation? Well, the beauty of gender equality is that it really does benefit us all: Securing girls’ and women’s access to education does not only improve public health, increase life expectancy and income rates, it also helps drive sustainable development, reduce environmental degradation, increase robustness against climate change and promote conservation.

The seemingly intricate connection between gender equality and conservation can be explained by the connections between poverty, biodiversity use and gender: less wealthy people rely excessively on natural resources and services provided by the natural world (so-called ecosystem services), making them correspondingly more vulnerable to the loss of natural resources. Because women account for over 70% of the world’s chronically poor people, women also account for a substantial proportion of the world’s population that relies disproportionately on natural resources – hence leaving women amongst the most vulnerable to the loss of natural resources.

With this in mind, it is remarkable that despite the fact that women account for nearly 90% of the workforce in agriculture in Mozambique and that the majority of farm and domestic activities fall under women’s domain, women are virtually absent in the policy and decision-making process in natural resource and environmental management and conservation.

If we wish to solve global problems such as biodiversity loss, depletion of natural resources and loss of ecosystem services, women must be included in conservation work, and enabled and empowered to be part of the solution. And when we say ‘we’, we mean everyone. Gender equality is no longer exclusively a women’s fight – it’s a fight that belongs to us all:

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights”

– Gloria Steinem, feminist, journalist and social political activist.

So if you care about human rights, #Pressforprogress by committing to a gender parity mindset.

Happy International Women’s Day to everyone!

World Wildlife Day: The Importance of Large and Small Scale Conservation Initiatives

Throughout 2018 our marine biologists here at Love The Oceans will be doing blog posts on topics of Named Days throughout the year. These blogs will focus on contemporary topics within science with the aim to reach more people and demonstrate the range of environmental, scientific and associated social problems we face today. To keep up to date, follow this blog, also found under the ‘News’ tab on our website. Without further ado, in celebration of World Wildlife Day, I introduce our second blog in this marine series:

World Wildlife Day: The Importance of Large and Small Scale Conservation Initiatives

March 3rd 2018 is World Wildlife Day. Let’s take the opportunity today to celebrate and appreciate the beauty and diversity of wild fauna and flora our world has to offer!

Humpback with calf
Mother and calf humpback whale in our Bay

A quick browse online tells us that wildlife is officially defined as “Animals living in their natural habitat and not within the possession or control of humans”. Multiple definitions imply that wildlife occurs in natural conditions and without human interference.

Before humans roamed this earth, every individual plant or animal could be considered wildlife. Nowadays, there are a variety of domesticated animals, farm animals, and cultured organisms that are grown in a controlled environment by humans, for  humans. However, humans do not only benefit from these organisms. Wild animals and plants also possess an intrinsic value and provide economic, scientific and recreational benefits. Think about fish: a wildlife resource that feeds millions of people and creates employment for millions of others. Think about all the advances made in modern day medicine based on studies of marine and terrestrial wildlife. But also think about gazing upon majestic reef ecosystems while diving, going out at sea to spot whales and dolphins, walking through endless forests bursting with life … These are all experiences and services we get from the wildlife surrounding us.

Unfortunately, mankind is also the main reason our world’s wildlife isn’t doing so well. Populations are in decline due to illegal hunting, overfishing, habitat destruction, ocean acidification, global warming, high demands due to population growth and many more anthropogenic impacts, impacts that did not exist before humans were here and urgently require conservation efforts. So Love The Oceans would like to celebrate World Wildlife Day by raising awareness for the importance of wildlife conservation, and marine conservation in particular.

Manta ray & diver on Manta Reef, one of our dive sites

Wildlife is not endlessly resilient to humans’ negative impacts on the environment.  For decades small and large scale initiatives have been working towards conservation to secure a future where humans can live in harmony with nature and sustainably use its resources and services. We’ve all heard of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – one of the world’s largest conservation organisations that has taken part in over 13,000 projects globally since 1961. Another major conservation organisation is the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), whose Red List of Threatened Species is widely used as the main reference for information on taxonomy, distribution and the conservation status of wildlife.

Moreover, in the 70s, two nationwide conventions created a framework to regulate the international trade of wildlife and to protect wildlife that migrates across national borders. The first, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), is an international agreement between governments, currently with 183 member states or Parties, aiming to ensure that global trade of specimens of wildlife does not threaten their survival. The text of CITES was signed initially by 80 nations on March 3rd 1973. It’s no coincidence that the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed this day to be World Wildlife Day in December 2013, which makes today the fifth edition.

The other convention, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), signed in 1979, provides a legal foundation for its 126 Parties in order to achieve internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout the migratory range of the species to which CMS applies. Both conventions work with appendices (CITES has I, II and III, CMS only has I and II) in which species are included with different conservation statuses and thus requiring different levels of international protection. Note that these conventions are not international legislative systems that take the place of national laws, but rather provide a framework for Parties to individually implement CITES and CMS at the national level.

But enough about large-scale, nation-wide conservation organisations and conventions. The work of small scale initiatives is just as important, and that’s where Love The Oceans (LTO) comes into play. LTO operates in Guinjata Bay in the Inhambane Province, Mozambique. Guinjata Bay, although being home to a wide diversity of marine life, has never been studied in depth and for a long amount of time. The bay is home to beautiful coral reefs, multiple shark and ray species, endangered turtles and of course the charismatic humpback whales that come to breed here between June and September. LTO aims to establish a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the bay, because we strongly believe that we’re located in a biodiversity hotspot. Coastal East Africa (including the coast of Mozambique) is considered a priority place for conservation according to WWF. Moreover, the area where LTO operates is home to a variety of WWF priority species such as dolphins, whales, marine turtles, corals and sharks, indicating the importance of this area.


Volunteers conducting visual coral reef assessments

LTO has been collecting data since 2014 in collaboration with volunteers from around the globe. We work with volunteers because we strongly believe that ethical volunteering in a remote and pristine area is a valuable experience for young scientists while we at the same time ensure quality data collection through training by our qualified marine biologists. One aspect of our work is coral reef surveys, whereby data on coral and fish diversity is collected through scuba diving. We believe that due to the high biodiversity present, the reefs in Guinjata Bay offer an exciting opportunity for the local community to generate sustainable sources of revenue from the marine environment through various ecotourism based initiatives. Our volunteers also collect data on the fisheries activity in the bay. Different fishing methods are used by local artisanal fishermen and a wide variety of elasmobranchs, fish, crustaceans and cephalopods are caught. LTO aims to assess the sustainability of the fisheries in collaboration with the current fishermen and, at the same time, educate the next generation of fishermen in local schools to ensure the exploitation of this wildlife resource will not be detrimental to the survival of species and populations towards the future. We strongly believe that through our research, education and diving we can work towards a win-win situation both marine wildlife and the local community will benefit from in the long run.

Shark caught in the local fisheries

Whilst we are working towards long-term conservation of the wildlife in Guinjata Bay, we also abide by our voluntary code of conduct and promote ethical interactions with wildlife encountered on an everyday basis. We’re proud to announce that recently we were accepted by the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) to become a partner due to our commitment to ethical interactions with humpback whales and dolphins in Guinjata Bay.


WCA Logo Large
We’re a proud WCA Partner

During fieldwork, whether it’s boat-based surveys, fisheries monitoring, snorkelling or diving, we empower a strict but necessary code of conduct in order not to disturb the ecology of the encountered species nor alter their behaviour. We encourage our volunteers to respect the marine environment and live and work by the three “Don’t T’s”: Don’t TOUCH, don’t TEASE and don’t TAKE. We’re conducting opportunistic sampling of natural encounters with all sorts of wildlife and aim not to disturb the marine environment. For encounters with charismatic megafauna such as dolphins, whales, whale sharks and manta rays, we even included specific sections in our dive policy for maximising encounter experiences while minimising disturbance to these gentle giants. Individual divers and snorkelers should respect safe distances from megafauna and of course never attempt to touch them. We also instruct our volunteers not to display behaviour that might stress, obstruct the path or in any way induce avoidance behaviour of the encountered wildlife. Our code of conduct also includes guidelines for boats when these animals are encountered.

Field specialist Matt taking data on a Whale Shark in our Bay

Our team wants you to take the opportunity of World Wildlife Day 2018 to appreciate that our oceans and its wildlife are vital, beautiful, deeply necessary and absolutely deserve our attention and our efforts for conservation. Here’s a quote from oceanographer Sylvia Earle encapsulating this:

“I hope for your help to explore and protect the wild ocean in ways that will restore the health and, in so doing, secure hope for humankind. Health for the oceans means health for us.”

Happy World Wildlife Day 2018!!



From Science to Swimming – Why Gender Equality and Sustainable Development Go Hand in Hand

Throughout 2018 our marine biologists here at Love The Oceans will be doing blog posts on topics of Named Days throughout the year. These blogs will focus on contemporary topics within science with the aim to reach more people and demonstrate the range of environmental, scientific and associated social problems we face today. To keep up to date, follow this blog, also found under the ‘News’ tab on our website. Without further ado, in celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, I introduce our first blog in this marine series:

From Science to Swimming – Why Gender Equality and Sustainable Development Go Hand in Hand

Today is the 3rd celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a celebration created to remind us that both science and gender equality are vital for sustainable development, and that without gender equality in science sustainable development is not possible.

While the gender of a researcher might seem fairly insignificant, underrepresentation of women in science also manifests itself in underrepresentation of women in policy-making and programming, essentially leaving women behind when decisions are made regarding global issues such as poverty alleviation, climate change, health and education – issues that all affect women and girls harder than their male peers.

According to UNESCO only 28.4% of researchers worldwide are women. One of the main reasons that women and girls lag behind in science, is that girls have limited access to the education and opportunities that their male peers are offered.  However, unequal access to resources can’t in itself explain the gender gap: The average share of women in science in the European Union is 33.1 %, a mere 3.1 percentage points above Sub-Saharan Africa, clearly demonstrating that high living standards, equal access to education, resources and opportunities does not automatically translate into equal representation.


The explanation for the underrepresentation of women in a variety of fields – despite every prerequisite for gender equality seemingly being present – is that girls continue to face stereotypes as well as social and cultural restrictions on what they are ‘allowed’ to do or be. In other words: It doesn’t matter that girls have access to exactly the same opportunities as boys, if it is not socially acceptable for girls to use these opportunities. Girls need access to the same opportunities as boys, as well as role models inspiring and empowering them to dare to dream big and beyond gender stereotypes.

In 2016 Disney launched Dream Big Princess, an international campaign to inspire girls around the world to dream big and aspire to become more than just a Disney Princess. Tapping into classic Disney Princess stories, the campaign showcased empowering photos of real-world girls and women dreaming big and beyond. The goal of the campaign was to raise funds for the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up programme, a campaign that with the UN’s own words is ‘uniting girls to change the world’. In October 2017 the #DreamBigPrincess campaign ended with a $1 million donation to the Girl Up programme – a truly happy ending giving any Disney film a run for its money!


The campaign might have ended, but the message of both #DreamBigPrincess and #GirlUp stays relevant: Girls are powerful and have the potential to do anything, even change the world, if they are empowered and given the opportunity – and when girls are empowered it benefits all of us.

At Love The Oceans we are in a truly unique position to empower girls and women through our work by providing female role models and introducing alternative gender roles: Not only is Love The Oceans founded by a woman, it’s also run almost exclusively by women – an unusual sight in rural Mozambique where gender roles traditionally dictate motherhood and domestic chores for women, not managing businesses and directing research projects.

One of the, perhaps more untraditional, avenues we have taken at Love The Oceans to empower girls is through swimming lessons: In addition to teaching about marine biology and conservation in the local schools, we also teach swimming lessons. Despite the fact that 33% of the population lives within 25 km of the coast, very few Mozambicans know how to swim. We are hoping to change this in our area by giving free swimming lessons to the children from our local schools on Saturday afternoons. The lessons are crucial, not just to improve water safety, but also to encourage the children to get in the water and hopefully spark their passion for the Ocean.

Gender stereotypes can be hard enough to change in a classroom, but the issues are greatly magnified when the learning environment is moved into the pool. Until 2017 only boys participated in our swimming lessons – despite the fact that girls were invited too and offered exactly the same opportunities as the boys.


In June 2017 we had a breakthrough when four girls showed up for swimming lessons.  However, one of the biggest challenges of getting girls to participate became obvious the moment the girls got in the water: They got in fully clothed. While the boys showed little hesitation about jumping in only wearing swim trunks or even occasionally their underwear, the girls didn’t remove a single clothing item before getting in the water. As you can imagine, being fully dressed – traditional capulana skirt and all – didn’t exactly make it easy for the girls to learn how to swim: The clothes restricted their movement and weighed them down. Hardly the ideal scenario for someone who isn’t capable of floating, let alone swimming! Getting ‘undressed’ for swimming lessons around the boys was an unexpected taboo we hadn’t accounted for.

Now, we could have fixed it by simply separating boys and girls, but decided against it – we wanted to enable the girls to feel equal and able participate, not just on the same terms as the boys, but also in the same space. In order to do so, we have adapted the set-up of our swimming lessons to ensure it is in line with cultural norms and traditions regarding clothing, and interactions between men and women:

The first step has been to fundraise appropriate swimwear for the girls, ensuring our staff are appropriately dressed, and only assigning female staff and volunteers to teach the girls. Mozambican customs require that clothing covers knees and shoulders, but without a full wetsuit for every participant this is hard to achieve for the purpose of swimming. Luckily we have discovered that shorts and T-shirt is an acceptable alternative. We are therefore trying to fundraise board shorts and rash guards for the girls to wear over their swimming costumes, and we ask staff and volunteers to wear either board shorts and rash guards or shorts and T-shirt over their own swim wear.

However, we quickly realised that even with all the right resources available, the girls were unlikely to jump in the deep end and make a serious effort at learning to swim, if they didn’t have a female role model with them in the pool – and not just any female role model, it would have to be a Mozambican. This is how Estrela ended up being an integral part of our swimming lessons: Estrela is the wife of our in-country representative, Pascal, who translates and teaches both classroom and swimming lessons with our volunteers – and therefore was the most natural person to ask.

Getting Estrela in the pool, proving to the girls that Mozambican women can learn to swim, has proven a success and given the girls the role model they needed to dare jump in the deep end and learn to swim, bringing us one step close to gender equality (at least in the pool). Hopefully Estrela and our swimming girls will encourage other women and girls to dare break gender stereotypes and empower them to dream beyond traditional gender roles.

#February11 #WomenandGirlsinScience #PressforProgress #GirlUp #DreamBigPrincess


Our swimming lessons would not be possible without the support of Vossie and Nellie Vosloo from Pleasure Bay Resort who generously lend us their pool for the lessons every Saturday afternoon and have donated wetsuits and swim gear.

We would also like to thank Zoggs UK who sponsor our swimming lessons, as well as donations from Catalina Lodge, our volunteers, Cathy Cronje, TYR and and anyone else that has donated equipment to this initiative.

If you would like to make a donation to our swimming lessons or our work in general, please contact us or use the ‘Donate’ option at the top of the page.

New Ocean Trash Campaign!

We’re now launching our BRAND NEW Ocean Trash merchandise line! This line is part of our Ocean Clean Up Campaign and we commit to removing 2kg of trash from the oceans and beaches for every item bought!

Why should you buy one?

– All items are printed by a certified organic company with low-waste digital printing
– Inks used conform to the GOTS/Soil Association organic criteria
– Items are made of organic cotton
– Everything’s manufactured in an ethically accredited, renewable energy powered factory
– Orders are sent out in packaging made from plants. This packaging should be recycled in a normal recycle bin, not composted
– We actively remove 2kg of trash from the beaches and oceans for every item bought

Do your bit for the planet and shop responsibly with us! Be sure to get your order in soon to get your hands on one of our beautiful anti-trash items


September/October Week 1, 2 & 3

Week 1

The weather was a tad stormy when we arrived, however it’s improved throughout the week and its now glorious sunshine all day long. Our group may be small but perfectly formed, spanning 3 continents and 4 countries (South Africa, USA, UK and Isle of Man). We’ve got to know each other really well throughout our training week, from trying Matapa (yummy local dish), to watching a duck have a near death experience with a falling coconut, to diving ‘Caves’ where we saw eels and turtles. Forget what you’ve heard about the best whale watching spots, Guinjata is a hidden gem where we’ve seen whales fin slapping, tail lobbing and breaching 24-7. After all the training, we’re now all ready and looking forward to the weeks ahead – teaching, fisheries research, humpback surveys and coral reef surveys. This weekend we’re heading out to Tofo to try surfing then hopefully diving ‘Manta Reef’ if the weather holds out. Got to go, the R&R’s (Rum & Raspberry) are calling!


Week 2

Team 2 – Lindsay, Melissa, Katie

This week was our teaching week, but Monday was a public holiday so we spent our time finishing off educational murals at both schools – Guinjata and Paindane. Our theme for teaching and painting for the week was whales and dolphins. With no previous teaching experience between the three of us, the first lesson was quite overwhelming, however the second lesson flowed better and we were more relaxed. It was fulfilling to see the children retaining the information particularly because they had to listen to it in English and in Portuguese. They were rewarded with pencils/pens for correct answers and our reward was their beaming smiles! We also managed to fit some fun educational games into the classes to reinforce the learning. The best of these was the echolocation game simulating how dolphins find their prey using sounds and hearing. We could not have survived the week without our brilliant translator Pascal and his mini-me Helton! Now tired but happy and looking forward to some fun diving over the weekend.

Team 1 – Shayley, Katie W

This week we’ve been waking up bright and early to venture out to the fisheries to gather data on the size and species of what the local fisherman are reeling in. Along our 45 minute walks we’ve been continuously rewarded with more whale sightings. Although mysteriously there seemed to have been a lack of fish this week, we’ve remained dedicated, staking out in our tent and being vigilant in case any kayaks or boats go out. We did our first identifications on Wednesday, which included king barracuda, bluefin kingfish and green jobfish.

Alongside our all-day stake outs we’ve been raging a war on beach rubbish! The team have unanimously agreed to thrash the previous groups impressive effort of 76kg, with an ambitious aim of 100kg. If achieved, this would be an LTO program record. So far, we’re well on our way to our target, with a current total of 45.9kg. Boom!

Team Shay-tie (Shayley and Katie) are unstoppable and ready to take on teaching week!


Week 3

Team 2 – Lindsay, Katie, Melissa

Fisheries week began with a bright and early start. The 6am walks are always beautiful with the sun rising over the ocean. An added benefit was the calf toning that came with the 45-minute walk.

After skillfully setting up our beach tent we camped out and waited for the fishermen to bring in their first haul. The gill net always promised to have a good few fish to measure and photograph.

This fisheries week was especially busy as there was a fishing competition underway. Between running to local canoes and spear fishermen, we had to rush over to the South African boats to see what they had caught for the day.

The other site was slightly less busy on the fish front so we spent our time usefully by performing beach cleans. We managed to acquire 23kg bringing this programs total to 68.6kg of rubbish that will not be making its way into the ocean.

Many late nights and lots of coffee ensued while we identified all the fish of the day (the identifying often continued in our dreams/ nightmares). This week was very busy and tiring however we are all left with slightly browner (in some cases bright red) bodies, more toned legs and a greater knowledge of the local Mozambican fish.

Team 1 – Shayley, Katie W

Our theme for the week was ‘Sharks and Rays’, so we set out to make all the kids LOVE these amazing animals by the end of the week. The first day was a bit nerve-wracking, we didn’t know what to expect, but as we dove into our lessons we began to relax and really enjoy engaging with the kids. The trick to getting the kids to be actively participating is to have lots of fun activities! Day 1’s activity was a game of ‘Hungry Hungry Shark’ (Tubarão Faminto Come Fome). A self-made game where the sharks had to ‘eat’ either crabs, octopus or fish. The ‘prey’ had to move like their animal as they tried to escape, it was so funny!

Day 2 saw the kids absolutely nail a quiz on manta rays, and then we played ‘Musical Rays’, a remake of Musical Statues where the kids have to move like swimming manta rays to the music. It was great fun!

Day 3 was about how sharks and rays are made, so we had the kids mimic how scalloped hammerheads ‘dance’ to find a mate. We put on some Mozambique music (check out Mr Bow!) for them to dance to, then when the music stopped they had to pair up. Afterwards we showed them a video from BBC ‘Sharks’ of the hammerheads doing it in the wild, and you could literally see it blowing their minds! We also got them to mimic devil rays jumping out and slapping the water with their body. It was a very interactive lesson, and the kids were really engaged!

The last day of teaching was particularly memorable. We taught the kids about the importance of conserving the species we’d taught them about, which we could tell really made an impact on them. Then we got the kids into teams to do presentations on their favourite animal. Considering none of the kids had done presentations before they were all amazing! They’d taken in so much of what we’d taught them and it was so gratifying that all our hard work had been worth it.

We had such a fun week! Plus, we even picked up some Portuguese, although I’m not sure how useful Brânquias (gills) will be…


So far this programs been a blast! Time is flying by. Looking forward to diving and whale watching next week! Keep up the hard work guys!

August/September Week 3 & 4

Week 3

Red Team – Adam, Kelly, Yas

After a week of fun and games with the kids at school, we started off this week with a humpback mother and calf sighting while whale watching in Guinjata Bay. No fish, but the sun was shining, which meant tanning could fully commence. Monday was a relaxing start to the week in comparison to the week before.

Tuesday started with a 5.45 am walk to one fishery, and the sunrise definitely made the walk worthwhile. We logged over 100 fish from a small pop-up tent in over 30-degree heat, pretty impressive! We didn’t finish logging until after 10pm, making our day a gruelling 17-hour shift but improving our fish identification skills further!

Wednesday was our first transect dive, it was a bit hectic, but we got some good data despite the many mysterious unknown fish.

Thursday took us to fisheries again, but luckily nowhere near as many fish, and definitely not as hot. We spent some time huddling up in the tent hiding from the rain. Dobby made an appearance again, but decided to ditch us while we were busy.

To end the week, we had some pretty good dives, Yasmine got to swim with humpback whales, and a blue spotted ribbontail ray swam straight under us while we were recording quadrats. It definitely didn’t take as long to log the data this time and we were done before dinner.

For our first week of actual data work, we definitely had a hard start, but hopefully next week we’ll improve.

Blue Team – Lucy, Charlie, Jeff (Tom)

Saturday: Fun dive
No lie-ins at the weekend! The team spent the morning on various fun dives including manta reef, eel alley and Paõ, however LTO has claimed its first victim – Tom’s little finger. Charlie then went off to teach the local kids how to swim – an essential skill for a coastal community.

Sunday: Pansy Island
We made our way to Pansy Island via catamaran! All in all, had a relaxing day snorkeling, sunbathing and playing ball games. It was pantastic. After we had pizza, we tried thinking of a pun but that would be too cheesy.

Monday: Transect diving
Spent the day diving for data, to name a few favorites we saw; sea snakes, turtles, octopus and orang-u-tan crabs. Also Jeff swam with a whale, no biggie.

Rest of the week
Getting into the routine now, whale watching and fisheries. Highlight of the week was seeing a whale shark from the boat, unforgettable!

Green Team – Scottie (Tom), Matt, Georgia

We spent this week teaching and painting at the local schools. Our topic for the week was sharks and rays, this was to the great delight of our shark fanatic Matt! We quickly got the hang of teaching, overcoming the language barrier with the aid of Pascal, our translator. One of the most successful lessons involved blind folding the students, mimicking the reliance that sharks and rays have on their electro-reception to find prey. In between lessons, we spent our time adding the final touches to the Red group’s food web mural – it was a great experience to be a part of the children’s education and we thoroughly enjoyed the week!

Yellow Team – Issy, Lydia, Charles, Harry

The second week of data collection ran a bit more smoothly than last week. Monday began with a sunrise walk to collect fisheries data. It was a long day waiting around, however, in the end it was worth it because we collected a huge amount of data from one big catch at the end of the day.

Tuesday and Thursday were both spent diving to collect coral reef data. We went to Caves on Tuesday and were efficient enough in doing the transects, that we had time to explore the caves afterwards. We dived in Hard Rock and Levi’s Ledge on Thursday, which meant we could collect some different data. Underwater, we saw a guitar fish, a sleepy turtle, plenty of octopus, and some of us managed to get manicures of cleaner shrimp. Up on the boat, Lydia was lucky enough to see a whale shark as big as the boat, swimming just 5m away! Unfortunately, it swam off too quickly for her to jump in. Wednesday and Friday were spent whale watching and collecting fisheries data in Guinjata Bay. Not many whales were seen at first, but on the second boat trip on Friday, Harry and Charlie were snorkeling with a humpback and its calf right beneath them.

We are now just over half way through the programme, and are all dreading going home in 2 weeks!


Week 4

Red Team – Adam, Yas, Kelly

Our first weekday was quite a shocker, as our glorious morning was cut short by a scalloped hammerhead being finned on shore. We didn’t see the actual killing, but we had to measure the head and fins that the fishermen had retrieved. It was hard not to show emotion, but here in rural Africa at least none of the shark goes to waste.

The rest of the week was much more relaxed. We saw some impressive king mackerel and yellowfin tuna at the fisheries on Wednesday, after a quick beach clean.

We had transect dives on Tuesday and Friday, seeing a blue spotted stingray, a school of king mackerel (which are much more impressive alive!) and a surprising appearance of a common octopus chilling on our transect line. Logging has definitely become a lot smoother as our identification skills have improved over the course of the program.

Overall, we’ve had a great week of sun, sea and stingrays, and hopefully, if we’re lucky, we’ll get to swim with a manta, humpback or whale shark this weekend on the ocean safari.


Green Team – Georgia, Matt, Scottie (Tom)

We returned to data collection this week and despite greatly enjoying the schools, it was nice to be back in the field. We spent our first day at Guinjata, whale watching and monitoring the fisheries. Unfortunately, Georgia had to go to South Africa for a few days to renew her visa which left Tom and Matt logging over 180 Needleskin Queenfish from fisheries on Tuesday. By Friday Georgia was back in action, however the conditions for transect dive were not ideal, the surge and visibility were not the best and we had to abort the quadrat survey. Having spoken to the local fishermen, it seems that they will be taking out the shark fishing boats next week which may provide some interesting catches. We are all looking forward to the weekend off and our ocean safari!

Blue Team – Charlie, Lucy, Jeff (Tom)

This week we were teaching and painting at the local schools. Our lessons were based on ocean trash, informing the kids about what constitutes as ocean trash and how it even ends up there. We focused on turtles, sharks and fish and how plastic affects them. Later in the week we discussed ocean trash distribution and garbage patches before finally covering the future and how we can all combat this massive problem. The bulk of our painting took place at Guinjata school where we transformed a brand-new classroom from the dull grey of plaster to bright blue and white walls with a mural of the hydrological cycle on the back wall. Today we had an incredible dive on Manta Reef! We saw so much cool stuff, massive schools of Big-Eye King Fish, many Potato Rockcod and Barracuda to just name a few. On the way back from this dive we came across some humpbacks and all managed to swim with 3 humpback whales with 1 being a calf!

Yellow Team – Harry, Lydia, Charles, Issy

Our week started off with diving on Monday, where we went to Pao on the morning dive followed by Devil’s peak later in the morning. The morning dive in Pao was great, where we saw a green turtle swimming right across our first 5 meter transect as well as lots of nudibranchs and 2 large moray eels sharing a hole on our 2 meter transect!

Tuesday and Wednesday saw us doing fisheries monitoring in the bays, with whale watching on Tuesday in Guinjata. Unfortunately we were a team member down as Issy had to go to South Africa for a last minute visa renewal, but the days were quiet with few fish landed so we were still able to work well. We did log a torpedo ray at Paindane, which we had to be careful whilst measuring so we wouldn’t get electrocuted!

On Thursday we were back at Guinjata bay doing fisheries and more whale watching, where we noticed that whale activity was generally higher in the early morning trips than the late morning ones. Issy was also back from South Africa so yellow team was complete again. It was a full moon on Thursday so lots of the local people came to the bay to take advantage of the low spring tide and gather mussels and fish trapped in the rock pools.

On Friday Charlie and Harry had to go to Maxixe to also get their visas renewed, which as well as a later start was made even better by a trip to KFC on the way home! This left Lydia and Issy to monitor fisheries by themselves, which was fairly quiet again with only 18 fish landed. They did find Dobby again though, who was looking very photogenic.


We can’t believe we’re already into the last week of the August/September volunteer program! These guys have been AWESOME and we’ll be SO sad to say goodbye! Keep up the good work everyone and have an amazing last week in Mozambique with us!

August/September Week 1 & 2

Training Week

We spent our first week in Guinjata Bay becoming familiar with the area, listening and participating in lectures on the research fields we are focusing on (coral reefs, fisheries and humpback whales) and practising the research methodologies we will be using in the following weeks.

On Monday, Pascal (LTO’s translator that helps us to teach at the school) invited us on a cultural tour that included a visit to his home in the village. We played football with the local children and ate a local dish that Pascals wife kindly made for us. It is called matapa and is made from coconut, matapa leaves and chicken stock. Nomnomnom…

The next day we visited two local schools, Guinjata and Paindane. We got to see the classrooms that were built by LTO (thank you for all the donations!) and the amazing educational murals that previous LTO volunteers have painted. Even though it was a school holiday there were many children helping their teachers to clean the school. We invited them to play a footie match…which we may have lost…

On Wednesday, we ventured out to the fisheries sites. It’s a long but beautiful one hour walk along the beach at 6 am. There we saw where the fishermen keep their boats and equipment, and where they land their catch. At the fishery we gained a doggy companion called Dobby, he came all the way back with us and has been an important member of the team since!

Thursday was dive day! The first dive group had a very lucky encounter en route to the dive site. They snorkelled beside a humpback whale and her calf, super impressive! The second group had some nice encounters on their dive, including 5 turtles and other awesome reef life such as mantis shrimp, lionfish, guitarfish and moray eels. Our weekend saw some relaxation for us all here. We chilled on the beach, took bodyboards into the sea and played beach volleyball, as well as sun tanning of course. On Sunday we did a massive beach clean up – and collected a total of 25.5kg of rubbish and plastic!


Week 2

Yellow Team – Issy, Lydia, Charles, Harry

This week was the first week of collecting data for LTO, after spending last week training. Monday began with a splash! We spent the day whale watching and came across a calf jumping out of the water, as well as two huge breaches right in front of the boat.  Tuesday and Thursday were both spent at Paindane fisheries collecting data. We managed to collect lots of data on the first day, but, unfortunately for the fishermen, a lot of boats came back empty handed on Thursday. However, we did manage to pitch the beach tent using only umbrellas and sticks.

Wednesday and Friday were both supposed to be spent diving, but bad weather on Wednesday meant that the dives had to be cancelled. Instead we spent the day at the local schools, helping another group with painting. Thankfully, the weather cleared up a lot by Friday, and we had two very successful dives. At the end of the second dive a mother humpback and its calf came up right by the boat, which meant that Issy, Lydia and Charlie could jump in the water and swim right next to them! We are all now looking forward to having a relaxing weekend, before all the excitement starts again on Monday and we can’t wait to see what the next 3 weeks will bring.

Blue Team – Lucy, Charlie, Jeff (Tom)

Monday: Paindane
Started the week with a very early alarm, but it was worth it for the amazing sunrise. Wet and windy conditions to start with, but Andrea came to the rescue with warm clothes and brownies. Two rays greeted us: one sunshine and one marbled electric, along with the rest of the fishermen and their impressive catches. Namely, a honeycomb moray eel and a huge squid!

Tuesday: Diving
First official day of transect diving today, despite challenging conditions it proved to be a good learning curve in terms of both data collection and diving technique. A pint (or two) was had after a successful afternoon of logging.

Wednesday: Guinjata fisheries and whale watching
Quiet day at the office, weather conditions didn’t allow for any diving or much fishing today. All the whale watching, therefore, took place on the beach (it’s a hard life). Saw plenty of breaches but, alas, no fisheries data was recorded today.

Thursday: More diving
Another day, another dive. The humpbacks kindly treated us to an underwater live concert. The dives were a huge improvement from Tuesday’s (you could say they went swimmingly) therefore there was lots of logging and fish identification to do that afternoon.

Friday: Guinjata fisheries and whale watching again
Fintastic day! Watched the whales from the boat and recorded their vocalisations. A few of us got the chance to swim with a humpback and her calf when the boat got close enough. A pod of dolphins wasn’t a sight for sore eyes either! Bring on next week!

Red Team – Adam, Kelly, Yas

Team Red’s first week consisted of teaching the school pupils of Paindane and Guinjata. Our topic for the week was ’turtles’ (Tartaruga in Portuguese). We aimed to teach the anatomy of a turtle, along with their habitats, diet, predators and life cycles and ending with the anthropogenic impacts.

At first the experience was quite daunting. We did not have much teaching experience and the kids were very shy and didn’t want to answer questions. Some classes were full with over 100 kids, with over 4 children to a desk. However, over time, we got a good gauge of what worked well and what didn’t, and the kids came out of their shells (pun intended) as the days went by.

Over the course of the week we’ve witnessed the kids warm to us and learn from our classes. They participated in lessons more, showed an increasing curiosity in marine life, and proved to us that they’d learned from what we taught them. It’s a great feeling to spark a child’s enthusiasm. One boy was eager to show us his notepad full of marine animal drawings, along with a big cheesy smile when we said how great the drawings were. We’ve handed out stickers and prizes and they’ve all been received with immense gratitude.

We made old playground games applicable to our lessons and got the kids to run around. They didn’t stop laughing which felt awesome. After we finished our mural, Yasmine ended up having to draw 3 sharks as the kids were so impressed with her scalloped hammerhead.

We have an overwhelming amount of respect for teachers as a result of this week. As much as we enjoyed it, we are exhausted!

Green Group Blog – Scottie (Tom), Matt, Georgia

We were very lucky being the first group to dive at the start of the week. Our first attempt at carrying out the coral transect was seriously tough, thanks to the challenging conditions of the Indian Ocean. However, an encounter with an Electric Marbled Ray afterwards made it all worthwhile. Throughout the week we monitored the fisheries from both Guinjata and Paindane. We enjoyed this because we were able to see the array of species that the waters here have to offer, although it was a reminder of the unregulated fishing that occurs in a developing country. After an insightful week, we are all looking forward to relaxing at the bar-racuda this weekend.


We’re really enjoying having the August program here and they’ve been amazingly enthusiastic and positive despite some questionable weather delaying diving days. We’re very much looking forward to what the next few weeks bring! Good job guys! 

July/August Week 3

Red Team – Momo, Jake, Rob and Emma

Our third week commenced with three days of painting at the schools. The yellow team joined us on Monday, as their coral reef surveys were cancelled for the day due to bad weather, and it was nice to have such a large group for a change. Over these few days we worked on two classrooms: one with a mural of the human anatomy showing the skeleton, organs and heart in detail, the other of the solar system. We found some amusing ways to entertain ourselves (the car was in town both Tuesday and Wednesday, so we spent both days at Paindane school all day), greeting Liz with fully painted faces at the end of the day.

Thursday, however, called for some coral reef surveys: we were very eager to get into the water! Despite some difficulties filming the quadrats due to some significant surge, we had two very enjoyable dives. We even spotted two blue spotted rays and a zebra shark on the early morning dive! That made everyone’s week. The afternoon was spent logging in all the filmed fish.

We spent Friday, a beautiful warm and sunny day, at Guinjata conducting the fisheries and whale watching activities. The sea was extremely calm and flat, which meant quite a lot of fish got brought up, however only a couple of whales were spotted. The ocean was so clear, we couldn’t resist slipping off the boat for a quick snorkel. One member from the coral reef survey team even got to swim with a turtle!

We’ve had a very enjoyable week, which has marked the midway point of our programme to our disappointment. We look forward to a weekend full of fun dives!

Green Team – Ben, Toby, Faye and Lois

Monday was a very windy day and so not much happened on that day. Fishermen were not about and thus we had a relaxed day and got to meet a new housemate that just arrived 😊

On Tuesday we went diving and Lois got to spot a lot of nudibranchs which she loves! For Wednesday and Thursday we visited the Guinjata and then Paindane fisheries, respectively. We saw and measured Mackerel, Barracuda, Triggerfish, and Groupers (aka “rock-cod”). It was great to see the Humpback whales breaching and fin slapping in the distance. After a bit of a lie in on Friday we wandered down the sand dune to the dive centre to see perfectly calm seas, perfect for some research dives! Both dives had very successful transects and incredible visibility – and were over an hour long! The reef was teeming with life and was stunningly beautiful with the sun beaming down on it. Lois and Ben had a great time snorkelling, watching the group dive below and admiring the fish. Lois was also lucky enough to encounter a turtle on her swim back to the boat! Safe to say we’re all hoping the conditions stay this awesome for the weekend of diving we have planned!

Yellow Team – Charlotte, Matt, Leander and Camille

Unfortunately, diving was cancelled due to bad weather on Monday, so instead we joined the red group helping painting and decoration of the school classrooms. We began by outlining two bodies on the wall, one which will show the skeleton and one that will show the organs. Tuesday featured a sub-divided team, with two of us remaining at Guinjata for fisheries research, whilst the other two headed to Maxixe for the day to attempt to renew their visas (the attempt was not successful). Wednesday featured a quiet day at Paindane, with only four catches. Lastly, both Thursday and Friday included more decoration of the school classrooms, all looking considerably more lively and colourful than before with the addition of the solar system.

Blue Team – Georgia, Hana, Logan

This week we headed out of Guinjata Bay to the closest tourist hub, about an hour and a half away, where we visited the best cake shop around (peanut butter chocolate cupcake say whaaat), and tested our surf skills on the beach. This was the second week of activities so now everyone was feeling a lot more confident with tasks, especially the fish ID. It’s been really great going on dives and being able to identify the fish we see while we’re down there. Fisheries as always was super interesting, this week a devil ray was brought up and it was great seeing it up close. The fishermen never fail to impress: how they managed to get a hefty tuna and king mackerel into a kayak out at sea we will never know, especially as they struggled to get them out on land! We’re now looking forward to a weekend of diving, swimming lessons and doing some serious chilling out!


We’re over half way through this program now and we couldn’t wish for a better group! We’ll be sad to see these guys go but we’re excited to see what the next 2 weeks have in store for us!