Friday, April 24, 2009

Training weeks at Cap Ternay

After weeks 1 & 2 of phase 092, the volunteers have settled in well and already a lot has been achieved. This phase has its usual British contingent, followed closely by the Americans, then mixed in we have Antonia from Finland, Richy from Germany, Cicki from Sweden and Shanna from Canada.

From the 10 volunteers who were not advanced open water divers, all have now gained their qualification and have increased confidence in their diving. Furthermore all the volunteers have gained their Coral Reef Research Diver Speciality which is the first stage of their field survey training.

After the first week of intense coral training and study, all volunteers put pen to paper for the coral exam. Results were very impressive with a number of passes, more than average, it would seem we have some coral geniuses in our midst! Their hard work has paid off as they get ever more confident in underwater coral identification. The amazing reef of Baie Ternay Marine Park, our back yard, offers the perfect training ground in this diverse marine environment. So far, a variety of creatures have been spotted on dives. Turtles, both green and hawksbills, have been sighted during dives and also from the boat. Two baby hawksbill turtles were even discovered swimming around the shallows of Baie Ternay. A range of other critters spotted include Mantis Shrimps, Moray Eels, nudibranchs, octopus, Lobsters. Sightings of larger marine life include a number of Sharks, Rays and Bumphead Parrotfish.

Food is also a big deal here on base and making the most of our basic supplies can be a challenge. However the volunteers have been creating some culinary delights over the past 2 weeks. Zoe has a flare for bread making and Lila, Phil and Amy have all been pronounced the base chefs!

The second week marked the first plankton sampling of the phase which proved extremely successful with a noticeable increase in the levels of plankton. The smaller planktivores are evident in the water, which is a great sign that larger plankton feeders such as whale sharks and manta rays may not be too far behind!

The first sightings of whale sharks in local waters have been reported, leaving all the volunteers in a state of excitement and in anticipation of their own first encounter with these giant and magnificent creatures. Dr David Rowatt who heads up MCSS (Marine Conservation Society of the Seychelles), one of our main partners, came and gave us all a chat about the work that they do with these sharks, the biggest fish in the ocean!