Tuesday, September 23, 2008

June expo draws to a close

The third phase of 2008 was officially a success, and week 10 lived up to expectations. Tim, Jenny, Alex, and Katie D. returned from Curieuse, where they too were able to have an amazing week out with Rich and Rosie and the ever-growing brood of chickens. Rochelle, the staff member that went out with them to our satellite camp, even set a record with the turtle tagging, catching and tagging our very first green turtle ever!

After their lovely week away, they returned on Saturday in time to get dinner at one of the best local Creole restaurants with the rest of the crew on base. The volunteers were keen to make the most of their last official weekend with GVI and after gorging themselves on Creole fare Saturday night, they awoke early to catch a dive to locally famous Shark Bank on Sunday morning. The weekend was restful and fun and paved the way for the finale of week 10.

The volunteers worked amazingly hard all phase, and we were able to finish up the surveys on Monday, allowing the rest of the week to be dedicated solely to fun dives and projects. As of Monday afternoon we had not only completed the eighteen sights around Northwest Mahé that we’re contracted to do for our partners, but three additional sites as well. It was a good phase for surveys, having completed more sites than any other phase this year, as well as successfully initiating two new methodologies with our turtle behavioural study and fish size estimation. With beautiful weather all around, we were also able to do every scheduled plankton pull and pulled over 1125 meters of plankton line in two months! The plankton pulls have shown a steady rise in plankton count, which ties in with the large amount of mega fauna we’ve seen lately!

Tuesday we headed to Therese Island and Conception Island for double tank fun dives, complete with bumphead parrotfish, humphead wrasse, barracudas, turtles, and sharks. The water was busy this week and on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s fun dives we saw tons of mega fauna, including schools of dolphins and sailfish in the water! It was the perfect way for the volunteers to finish off their dives and say goodbye to Seychelles sea critters.

During the dives on Wednesday, it was all barbecuing back on base, and Philippe, our caretaker headed up the efforts. He was a busy bee in the kitchen for many an hour, teaching the volunteers how to cook Creole-style, and prepping the huge feast we had for the ten week barbecue. After dinner, the rest of the night flitted away to a combination of celebratory beers and food comas, and we eased into Thursday with the usual camp clean and pack up. It was sad to say goodbye on Friday morning to comrades of over two and a half months, but with promises of emails and a few more days to sprawl on the beach together, everyone gave their goodbyes and hugs.

The phase was a wonderful one for surveys, and in total, we saw over 225 rays, over 40 sharks, 82 dolphins, and almost 70 turtles—eight were also caught on Curieuse, with three new ones tagged. In addition, we saw mantis shrimps, devil rays, over 30 octopi, lobsters, bumphead parrotfish and humphead wrasse, sailfish, nudibranchs, a massive assortment of lovely creatures. We were also able to build and perfect our composter and finish off a veggie patch and cement walkway on Curieuse. It was a wonderful phase, and an amazing ten weeks.