Program 1, Week 2 ~ first volunteer blog post!

Post training week, we ask our volunteers to write a weekly blog on their experiences here in Guinjata Bay, with Love The Oceans. All of these blog posts are written by our volunteers, allowing them to share their experiences on our website for all their friends and family to see! After training week the volunteers are split into ‘groups’ in which they remain for the duration of their time with us. Each group writes a blog section…enjoy! 
Teaching week ~ Shelly, Christina, Charlotte & Emerald
Our week teaching at the local schools was full of emotions. We were worried coming into the week because of the language barrier between us and the students but on our very first day we were welcomed by hundreds of kids with wide smiles, open arms, and open minds. Our translator, Pascal, was endlessly helpful in communicating with the kids and is so fun to work with. We even learned our fair share of Portuguese by the week’s end. We were super impressed by the student’s attentiveness to our lessons, as well as their retention of information from day to day. We were truly inspired by their positive attitudes despite the less-than ideal state of their classrooms (no desks, holes in the floor, sun in their eyes). Even though they called us the Portuguese word for “rice” because of our white skin, they all earned a soft spot in our hearts by the end of the week. We made memories to last a lifetime and shared plenty of laughter– tackling each other in the sand playing games, deciphering how to use the school’s drop toilets, and getting man-handled by a bunch of 8 year olds.

Coral Reef Survey week ~ Abby, Veronica, Mattie & Daisy
Clutching the survey equipment, we roll backwards off the boat and into the churning seas. On the surface, the seas are wild, but as we descend, the calmer waters below remind us of why we’re here. We’re here to survey and record the corals and sea life present on the local reefs here in Guinjata Bay.
As we were the first group to ever carry out this kind of research in the local area, it took a couple of dives to grow accustomed to and perfect the method of carrying out the surveys. As a group, we would lay down a 25metre transect line and then go along taking pictures of quadrats at every 2.5m which we then would use to determine the abundance of coral in the local area.
Some highlights of our week included seeing a manta and diving with a whale shark. We felt extremely lucky to have seen a whale shark, especially as they’ve just been classified as “endangered” by the IUCN. Diving behind such a majestic creature made us realise the importance of the work done here in Mozambique by Love The Oceans and has made us even more determined to do our best to help them with their mission to make this a marine protected area.

Fisheries Research week ~ Tate, Jessica, Nathan, Madi
Surveying fisheries is an emotional roller coaster. On the one hand, it is amazing to see the diverse organisms that live in our oceans. On the other hand, it is very emotionally draining seeing these beautiful creatures being butchered. A part of volunteering with Love The Oceans is about accepting the local culture and retaining your own opinion on the matters to yourself. We are here to make friendly relations with the locals in order to collect very important data that will be used to hopefully show the world how important these creatures are.
This experience has been incredibly rewarding. The local fishermen we worked with throughout the week were incredibly kind, welcoming, and helpful for any of our questions. They really made the entire week an enjoyable one. We were able to see a wide variety of wildlife during this process including Tiger sharks, Zambezi sharks, Thorntail rays, and a potato bass, just to name a few. It was very exciting to discover the cultural differences and work together to identify the species of all the sharks, rays, and fish we encountered.
There are a variety of fishing methods we witnessed during the week, including long lines, gill nets, and spear fishing. Sharks and rays were pulled up mainly from the long line method which involves multiple hooks on a long baited line that is left in the ocean for an allotted time. Each day, the fishermen would take their small wooden boat out to see if there were any bites. They then replace the bait and head back to shore with anything they may have caught. This process took between two to three hours and could occur as early as 6:00 AM or 2:00 PM.
Gill nets are also used, which has a reef that forms a protected cove along the beach. The fishermen take the nets out, each holding a side, and snorkel throughout multiple parts of this enclosed area. This process is very damaging to the local corals, as the weighted bottom tears through anything it comes in contact with. This process is also non-selective, meaning it will catch anything within its parameters. This means that protected or endangered species that get caught in the net do not have the chance to escape.
Out of all three fishing methods, from our observations, spear fishing seems to be the most successful in number of catches. The spear fishermen we worked with speared any number of fish between 10 and 20 on average. This method also requires the most skill and determination from the fishermen.
Overall, from the methods we observed, as well as our interactions with the local people, our perspectives have been changed about the necessity for sustainable fishing methods across the globe.

We’ve loved having you guys, can’t believe we’re halfway through the program already! Looking forward to the next two weeks!

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