Friday, October 30, 2009

Busy week........

Week 3 on the Island of Curieuse ended with a goodbye to Fiona as she heads back to Scotland and a promise that she’ll eat lots of bacon and take enough hot showers for all of us. The remaining Curieuse crew took a visit to the Vallee de Mai world heritage site on Praslin to see the Coco De Mers. A species of tree that is endemic to only 2 islands in the world, Curieuse and Praslin, and produces the largest nut of any plant. This was followed by a quick boat trip to the nearby island of Aride which serves as the nesting grounds for over one million birds.

With the weekend over, week 4 saw a return to diving, corals, and the usual duties of living on Curieuse. Recent rain showers have led to the erection of tarps over our safari tents in the hopes of lessening the number of puddles that have been developing in them. The tricky process was a success and both tents now exhibit a slight circus tent quality as the only tarps that were available where striped blue ones. They seem to be fitting into the tropical environment quite nicely.

Several new dive sites have been visited, Point Rouge and Caimen Point, and everyone has seen their fair share of megafauna there. Rays, turtles, white tip sharks, octopus, and even a guitar shark have all made an appearance. Coral survey quads have successfully started and all the volunteers are quickly mastering the art of quading inverted while being pushed around by the surge and not face-planting onto sea urchins.

Handy-men Carl and Matt have been hard at work creating new backs for the kitchen benches and, with the help of Ben, have made new hooks and shelves for all the dive equipment. The kit room has never been so organized. Turtle walks continue on a daily basis and the number of nesting turtles seen now totals 4. A major mangrove clean was done by Sue, Steph, Colin, and Seth while Rach, Diana, Ross, Ange, and Matt cleaned the turtle beaches. All together we collected about 10 bags of trash.

Today brings the first day of Coco De Mer surveys for Seth, Matt, Ange, and Ben which involves a hike into the Curieuse jungle looking for these special trees. We take a number of measurements, count the nuts and catkins, and GPS them to add to an existing database that helps us determine the stability of the species. This weekend the volunteers are looking forward to a trip to Mahe for the Creole festival and some possible whale shark sightings.