Wednesday, January 21, 2009

We are back!

Phase 19 of the Seychelles Marine Expedition kicked off to a cracking start last week with 25 new expedition members arriving from various corners of the globe. Including several Americans, a couple of Canadians, Denis from Holland, Johannes and Judith from France, Alex from Italy, Nat from Australia and the usual crowd of Brits! After a couple of days of tours and introductions diving began in our beloved Baie Ternay. With 14 of the volunteers commencing their Advanced Open Water course and those already qualified receiving an introduction to corals of the Seychelles. In and amongst this the volunteers have received a series of workshops and lectures, teaching them about the marine environment, coral reefs and identification of the corals they will be surveying over the coming weeks. After a week of studying mania the volunteers sat their first theory exam this Monday. The standard was extremely high with 13 passes and a number of very near misses - credit to the hard work they all put in!

Various mega fauna has been spotted in the bay during dives and boat rides, as well as some comparatively tiny but equally exciting macro-fauna. Bridget, Christine, Lucy and Rebecca were lucky enough to see 17 devil rays sailing by them just beyond the drop-off. Laura and Mike T saw a hawksbill Turtle, a number of Eagle rays and several Moray eels have been sighted too. The AOW divers saw a 2m Lemon Shark during their deep dive, 14 Eagle rays during their navigation dive and Turtles and Dolphins have been seen from the boat. The smaller critters spotted include various Nudibranks, Cleaner Shrimps, Mantis Shrimps and Pipe Fish.

As well as science and first aid, the EM’s have picked up a variety of other useful skills. A fruit tree tour of the camp grounds proved very popular, enlightening the volunteers into how much food there actually is all around us all the time and how easy it is to gather. All can now work the compressor and have had a go at preparing meals for over 30 people. Denis, Johannes and Rebecca helped gut the 3 giant Jacks we bought at the local market, and many people have learnt to make fresh bread. Kimmy’s bread baking skills were coming on a treat last week, but unfortunately progress was cut dead on Wednesday after two members of staff, who shall remain nameless, bought the wrong type of flour on the shopping trip. Anyone know any good recipes involving gram flour…?

The end of a successful week one was marked with a barbeque, some punch and a few Seybrews…and of course a well deserved lie-in on Saturday morning. And with all those passes on the coral theory test, week two is showing a lot of promise too.