Program 1, Week 3~ volunteer blog post!

Fisheries Research week- Veronica, Mattie, Daisy & Abby

Following an incredible week of diving, this week our group was carrying out fisheries research at Paindane Beach. Each day started with a 40-minute walk to the beach (which feels terribly long after a day spent in the sun), however we were incredibly lucky with the weather and managed to stay dry the entire time. Although we were worried we’d be bored sitting on the beach for hours each day waiting for the fishermen to bring up their catches, we enjoyed improving our tans (aka getting incredibly sunburnt), reading and trying our best to help out the local fishermen carry their boats up the beach (which we quickly learnt was not an easy task).

Our first day threw us right into it, with two sharks brought up on the longline boat. Seeing a baby Tiger Shark being dragged along the beach was a little upsetting, but we quickly learnt how to dissociate our feelings with what we were witnessing. Yes, on one hand it’s horrible watching the fishermen cut the beautiful bodies of these sharks, but on the other hand it’s kind of interesting to see the biology of the sharks as well as learning more about the local culture. There’s little we can accomplish right now about the shark killing trade here and so the best we can do is to accurately and precisely record the catches in order to achieve the goals of the programme.

Our favourite part of the week was getting to interact with the locals. They were always welcoming and willing to help us take all the measurements required. A few highlights were when one woman took a particular liking to Veronica’s hat (while all the other locals laughed along) and getting the opportunity to ride on one of the local boats and help pick mussels. It was a long week of sitting waiting, but we enjoyed the lovely weather and have some wonderful tans and shark vertebrae to show for it.

Coral Reef Survey week- Shelly, Emerald, Charlotte & Christina

We had an amazing week doing coral reef surveys. Sadly, the coral reefs here are not in the best condition. Sometimes carrying out the methodology was quite hard given the surge and currents and we worried we were doing more harm than good running the transects along the seafloor but we definitely learned a lot along the way and perfected our system by the end of the week. The diving itself was amazing, and always made better by the help of Armando, the best skipper around. We were lucky enough to have a whole pod of whales pass right by us on a dive and it was the most majestic thing. They were so close, we thought we were going to get knocked in the head by a tail! Our lunches were spent with the local dive staff, who never failed to put smiles on our faces. Overall we had a splendid week!

Teaching week- Madi, Tate, Nathan & Jessica

This week our group worked at two local schools, Guinjata and Paindane, teaching the students about whales and dolphins. We taught five classes each day with students of varying ages. We came up with activities for them to do each day. The students were a joy to work with. They were very eager to learn and very interactive with the information. It was very enriching to teach such happy and fun children. We also worked on some renovation projects at both schools. At Paindane, we did repairs on the walls, and prepped them to be painted. At Guinjata, we painted a wonderful mural that we are very excited about. It was a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community.

We’re nearing the end of our first program now and with only a week left there is still much to do at the schools. Our volunteers have been working hard plastering and painting the existing classrooms and we have plans to construct a new classroom. Please consider donating a little money to our education project this year – we need as much as we can get! You can read this page and see exactly what your money will buy. Even a little can go a long way!

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