Monday, October 13, 2008

GVI Seychelles, the first week.

Seychelles October phase kicked off a week ago. 26 volunteers arrived on base bleary-eyed either because of long sleepless flights or due to spending the previous couple of nights sampling the local nightlife! We also have Rodney Boone with us this phase, he is an NSP (National Scholarship Programme) volunteer who lives locally on Mahé.
After a day of settling in and listening to numerous introductory chats, the volunteers got in the water on Saturday. Several began their PADI Advanced Open Water course, and those already AOW qualified were introduced to the fish and corals they’ll soon come to know and love. The course was finished by mid-week and we now have 11 fully fledged AOW divers. Some may be continuing their training in a couple of weeks as Chris is currently organising a PADI Rescue Diver course with the Under Water Centre in Beau Vallon.

There has been a studying frenzy on base over the last few days with volunteers making up some weird and wonderful ways to remember the names of the fish and corals. Kei, Emily, Scot and Bex, have been creating new games with flash cards, timing each other and turning it into a competition. They challenged some of the staff to take part too and are now trying to top their times.

There is an air of excitement on base as the MCSS (Marine Conservation Society Seychelles) microlight has been circling in the area looking for whale sharks. MCSS are one of GVI Seychelles’ partners; they’re a local NGO who monitor Whale Sharks and turtles. They have informed us that Whale Sharks have been sighted in Baie Ternay However, we haven’t seen any ourselves yet, but spirits and hopes are high now we know they are about. If they do show themselves, for most of our volunteers, and even a couple of the staff, it will be the first time they’ve seen one.

The turtle beach walks have just started up again this week after a 6 month break. Beach walks are only conducted during the turtle nesting season which runs from October to March. We walk some of the local beaches looking for turtle tracks and/or evidence of nests, and pass on information about what we find to MCSS. No Tracks/nests/turtles were seen this week, but it’s still very early in the season, so we’re hopeful for the coming weeks.

The plankton tow also happened this week. This is another part of the work we do for MCSS. We collect and filter plankton and pass it on to them to analyse. All the volunteers were eager to have a go at beating the current time records for pulling in the net. Keith and Fiaz came within 10 seconds of the men’s record…despite Fiaz having turned a pale shade of green due to an attack of sea sickness!

The plankton tow is notorious for causing people to loose their lunch, but so far this phase we’ve had gorgeous weather! The odd tropical downpour of course, but generally clear sunny skies, calm seas and fantastic visibility on the dives.