Sunday, December 13, 2009

10 survey sites complete and new mooring buoy on Curieuse!

With a night dive, a weekend in Mahe, some good food, and a hot shower under our belts, we returned for our last full week of work on Curieuse. It’s hard to imagine that this is almost the end already. Our last week was full of surveying (on land and on sea), megafauna, cakes and even murder!

On the surveying front, Phase 1 Curieuse has been extremely successful. With 10 sites completed and a few others still in progress, we’ve all become experts on coral recruitment quads and invertebrate belts. The Coco De Mer walks continue with us contributing over 100 new trees to this year’s census. This Friday we had Chris Kaiser, who works at Zurich University, come for the day and give us a little bit more information on what all the data will be used for and better surveying techniques. He’s on loan to the Vallee de Mai and is in charge of all the data that’s collected. Daily turtle walks have allowed us to document 160 nest/tracks and everybody has seen at least one nesting turtle. We even had one come up right in front of the house. Seth currently holds the record of the most turtle sightings with 15! As nesting season draws to a close, hatching season begins. We went on a hatchling hunt on Thursday night in the hopes that we might get to see some baby turtles making their way from the nests to the sea. The full moon provided the perfect backdrop for it but we didn’t manage to catch any. In the end we did happen to see a laying female which made the whole walk worth it.

Several of the new sites we’ve started surveying have been full of megafauna. One contained 3 huge marbled rays (appox 1.5-2 meter wingspans), another provided Steph with a close encounter of the Hawksbill kind, and, while Lyns watched, a white tip swam right next to Lars. He was diligently doing a quad and didn’t even notice it.
Our resident chef, Dickon, has been in fine form this week and has been making daily baked goods. So far we have had a peach cake, mango and lemon sponge bars, an eggless chocolate cake, apple and raisin cookies, lemon bars, and Nutella cookies. Anyone who thought that coming to Curieuse would help out with their diets has definitely been mistaken. Not to be forgotten, the other boys have also been hard at work; they managed to create the heaviest mooring buoy ever made. Supposedly for our boat Dexter, they are still coming up with a plan to move it the 300 meters from outside the kit room to its final destination on the sea floor in front of the house.

Brought over from Cap Ternay, Curieuse has started its first game of murder. Similar to the American game Clue, you have to “kill” your given person by handing them a specific item in a certain place. First to die was Lyns with a weightbelt in the compressor room and then Neil with chocolate on the beach (both by Dickon). Carl followed with a pillow in the kit room by Diana and finally Rach killed Dickon with a toothbrush in the outdoor shower (with the water running). He maintains that he only took it because she asserted her authority as Expedition Manager. The game continues and everyone still alive is paranoid of anyone who tries to hand them anything. Luckily turtle and Coco De Mer walks, dives, and the mangrove clean are off limits so we can actually get some work done.

After our customary Friday night BBQ, the weekend promises to be a chilled one. A quick trip to Praslin for the internet and some ice cream and a possible boat ride to Anse Lazio beach are all that we have planned for our last weekend. I think we are all going to try and spend as much time soaking up the Seychelles’ sun before we have to leave this beautiful island and return to the cold December weather and reality.