Program 2, Week 4- volunteer blog posts

Team 1- Tom, Hannah, Sam and Johanne

Sunday 21/08/16

Johanne, Tom and I went for a yacht trip along the estuary to Linga Linga today, while Hannah stayed in Guinjata exploring and messing around with the guys at the dive centre. The estuary was really peaceful, making the trip across relaxing before we reached a resort on Linga Linga. There we took full advantage of the well-stocked bar and attempted some watersports, with varying levels of success: Johanne proved a natural at water-skiing, I somehow struggled to lie down on a ring dragged behind the boat, and Tom decided it all looked too tiring and took up residence at the bar instead. The sun was setting as we made the journey back across the estuary, with flamingos flying alongside the boat.

Tom health update: Impaired reactions, elevated sense of self-confidence, no malaria

Monday 22/08/16

We were at Guinjata collecting fisheries data, it was pretty windy though so not many fishermen were out. Instead we passed the time watching films and eating burgers in the sun, suffering the hardships of a career in research. The fishermen caught some lobsters and fish later in the day, but all in all it was a quiet day.

Tom health update: No malaria

Tuesday 23/08/16

We were meant to go to Paindane fishery for the day, but the wind was even stronger, to the point where no fishermen were going to risk trying to catch anything. Instead we went along with the school group for the morning, helping them paint at Paindane school. We whitewashed some walls and helped with their mural, with the school eerily quiet while the kids are on holiday.

Tom health update: No malaria

Wednesday 24/08/16

We woke up to a serene clear ocean, perfect for a diving day. The wind and current of the last few days cleared a ton of sediment out of the water column, so when the wind calmed down the underwater visibility was three times what it had been before. It turned out, though, that the sea’s calmness belied a fierce current, making our reef surveys a lot more difficult as we had to swim against the current to film the transects. We completed our first survey without much difficulty, but swimming in the current had used up almost all of our air, preventing us from enjoying the crystal-clear water for longer. Also Hannah saw a dolphin snorkelling, as she took great pleasure in reminding us after.

Our second survey was slightly less successful, and we were eventually forced to call it after a lot of struggling. We dropped into about 3m of water with 25m to swim before we could even begin the transect, so we had to swim 50m against a much stronger current than before in full dive kit; leaving us shattered just from laying out the transect to begin the survey. Because it was so shallow we decided it would be easier just to do it in a mask & snorkel, so we took all the dive stuff off in the boat and jumped back in, but immediately drifted past the transect. As we were fighting to swim back Tom tried to stand up on some rocks, but kept getting knocked over by the waves. We eventually gave up on our fight and drifted towards the boat, with Tom’s frustrated shouts of “Go away current” ringing in our ears.

Tom finished up his contribution to the team by, when we were on the boat watching Johanne swim towards us against the current, shouting “I’m coming to help” and jumping in the water. He proceeded to swim in the opposite direction, watch Johanne swim 30m towards him, then mutter “I think we’re giving up now” before jumping back on the boat.

Tom health update: High stress levels, possible messiah complex, no malaria

Thursday 25/08/16

Our team was at Guinjata again, but Johanne and I needed to renew our visas so we went into Mashish to get them sorted and have a classy lunch en route. To get there we had to pack into a ‘ferry’ to take us over from Inhambane, which turned out to be a small boat with at least 50 people packed in. It was propelled only by an old 2-stroke motor held together with tape and sat way too low in the water for comfort, but surprisingly turned out to be quite a relaxing journey across a beautiful estuary. We got the visas renewed without any fuss, but the trip was deemed a failure by Hannah due to our lack of interest in Mashish’s KFC, which Hannah’s been pining for since the moment we landed in Mozambique. Instead we went for lunch at a seafood restaurant by the dock which served insane calamari, so we left very happy.

Meanwhile at Guinjata, “Hannah and Tom bossed it”- Hannah. The fishermen caught some fish, all of which were allegedly logged with great precision.

We finished the night by driving to a pizza place, where many games ensued. Tom proved surprisingly talented at the sack race, Johanne danced to Shakira and Hannah built a nest on a boat outside the bar: a successful night all round.

Tom health update: Hints of food envy, no malaria

Friday 26/08/16

We finished up the week at Paindane fishery, where we’d been met by 4 dead sharks the moment we got there on our previous visit. This time no fishermen appeared for almost 5 hours, giving us a chance to work on tans (or burns). From this peaceful beginning the day devolved into a “when it rains it pours…” situation, with three spear fishermen bringing up their catches immediately followed by a gill net with at least 500 50cm crocodile needlefish in, before a shark boat came up with three sharks including a 3m scalloped hammerhead. We were still logging these catches an hour after we were meant to leave, so by the time we got back to the dive centre they were already kitting up for a night dive. It turned out Tom, Johanne and I were meant to be diving, leaving us about 5 minutes to get changed and ready to dive. Other than the stress of speeding around to prepare, the dive was so much fun; with a sleeping turtle and tons of lobsters, parrotfish and moray eels. When we ascended the night sky was incredible, there was no light pollution so the stars were as bright as I’ve ever seen them.

Tom health update: Slight sunburn/heat stroke, no malaria

Team 2- Ollie, Shelby, Natasha and Rachael

This week Shelby started to feel left out so joined the malaria club…

Our week began with two days of cancelled dives because of stormy weather. Instead we ended up back at Paindane school, which wasn’t too bad as it meant we had the chance to finish off our map painting in one of the classrooms. On Tuesday afternoon Shelby tested positive for malaria, so we were a person down for the next couple of days.

We got a little bored on Wednesday at Guinjata as nothing came up all morning until the fishermen brought in something so big it took two men to drag it out of the water. At first Rachael, who was looking through the binoculars, thought it was a shark, but it turned out to be a barracuda. There were also a few other fish which we decided to measure first. Then just as we were about to start on the barracuda a man appeared, picked it up and slung it over his shoulder then proceeded to run away from us down the beach. How he managed to carry it and two other fish without falling over remains a mystery, but the end result was that we missed the chance to measure the most interesting fish at Guinjata we’ve had yet.

Thursday was an even stranger day, as Shelby was still too ill to come and Ollie had to go into town to get his visa renewed. We ended up with just two people at Paindane fishery. Again, nothing came up all morning until we got a gill net full of needle fish. This was shortly followed by the shark boat, who’s arrival was heralded by a large group of women and children, all shouting and laughing for joy. The fishermen had brought in a total of five sharks, including two 2.2m black tips, one male and one female.  

On Friday the weather was finally good enough for us to dive and the visibility was amazing, from one end of the transect we could easily see the other 25m away. We also ended up doing three dives instead of two to start catching up on the ones we’d missed. This meant a lot more logging needed to be done that evening. Unfortunately this was also the evening that the dive centre decided to do a night dive, which Ollie was lucky enough to get a space on. The end result is that we still haven’t finished our logging!

On another note, Shelby found a dead hermit crab in her bag and decided to put it in Tom’s bed, only when he went to bed that evening he didn’t notice. His morning retaliation however, has led to all out war.

Team 3- Caitlin, Kimi and Mark (Smith)

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we were painting at Paindane School. This week the kids were all on their winter holiday, so we had the opportunity to paint the inside of a classroom. We decided to paint the alphabet along the edge of the classroom, and painted a mural of the ocean layers and the animals that you would find there on the back wall. A South African school was also at the School this week, helping out by whitewashing the school ready for the next programme to paint murals on.

On Thursday we had a day of coral reef surveys. Our first dive was to Turtle Creek, a deep dive, so we were only able to carry out the central ‘Coral Cover’ part of our survey due to being limited by no decompression time. Our second dive was to Caves, however the current swept us off the reef so we had no data from this dive. Logging therefore only took us 40 minutes, so we had a lazy afternoon.

Friday was a relatively easy day at the Guinjata fishery. The day before the police had been down at the beach catching the fishermen out for not having spearfishing or kayaking permits, so the fishermen seemed a little wary still. However the fishermen still caught a few lobsters and a range of fish. On Friday night Kimi and Caitlin got the chance to go on a night dive which was awesome, and afterwards there was a Braai on the beach.

Team 4- Beth, Callum and Paige

On Sunday Beth and Paige went on a yacht trip to Linga for burgers and watersports, Beth face planted violently during water skiing and Paige nearly lost teeth to an elbow during tubing with Shelby. Paige was lucky enough to steer the catamaran and everyone was scared for their lives. Beth almost fell off attempting the titanic pose. Monday was our penultimate Paindane and Hitty and Pino (the dogs) came with us and stayed all day, each buried a coconut seed in the sand, you never know there could be a coconut palm to give shade to the future volunteers. That night we had movie night, Beth popped some popcorn and we watched the jungle book on the big screen (a bed sheet). Tuesday was a stormy day, Beth sawed through shark vertebrae all day for her masters dissertation, it was a little frustrating as they were a little too big for the saw. Paige and Callum did a little painting at Paindane School but enjoyed half a day off due to the stormy weather. Wednesday was our last ever Paindane day, this wasn’t very eventful, Callum snorkelled the reef, and he says it was as beautiful as bubble gum ice cream, he also chased some whales to no avail for 2km much to Beth and Paige’s worry. Thursday and Friday were our paint days at the school, the kids whispered and giggled behind our backs, there was a lot of seaweed thanks to Paige as well as an awesome red sea fan collaboratively by Paige and Beth. We also painted blackboards and the South African catholic students who were there also helping to renovate Paindane School bought us Easter eggs even though it’s the end of august. On Thursday night Paige and Callum went with others from the volunteer program to a organised Olympic games party held at Neptune’s bar, where they had pizza and the Guinjata girls won tug of war contest. On Friday night Beth and Callum did a night dive and saw a sleeping turtle and parrot fish as well as seeing bioluminescence on their safety stop. On Saturday Beth and Callum did the first of their two rescue diver dives and are hoping to be mostly finished by Sunday, Paige’s highlight of the day was her washing and she ended the day having made coconut brigaderos and pina coloda.

Well the weather wasn’t great this week but spirits were still high and work continued thanks to these hard working teams! We can’t believe how fast the weeks are going and we hope your last week here is as awesome as this one has been. 

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