Friday, November 12, 2010

11/11/10 Weekend Away

Hello sportsfans, and welcome once again to your weekly opportunity to experience vicariously life at Cap Ternay, Mahe Island, Seychelles, Home Planet, Sol. The last couple of weeks have been all about survey work, so we’ve had our noses an inch away from tiny corals, as well as doing underwater transects of invertebrate life. With all the coral/invertebrate training safely behind us, the data we collect now is being sent to our project partners, of which we have a few. They will in turn use this data in their own monitoring efforts.
The wind has changed direction in the last couple of days, heralding a complete change in the weather. By this, I mean that it is still hot, but that the cooling sea breezes are now coming from the North, rather than the South. Unfortunately, this transition period is not brilliant for diving, as the winds kick up the waves and fill the dive sites with silt, reducing visibility to about 30cm. The lovely Sam (Australia), who skippered this morning, drew upon all her considerable experience as a combine harvester driver/dolphin polisher/assistant librarian to ensure that the boat was not swamped in what were possibly the heaviest seas since Admiral Nelson looked out his porthole and said ‘Oh no, this is going to sting!” In any case, fun was had by all, and the visibility will return to the usual 15m in the next couple of days.
There was certainly no lack of visibility on the dive a few of us did on Saturday on our way to La Digue for a well-earned long weekend. The lucky 12 who descended into the depths at the Marianne dive site got up close and personal with a veritable smorgasbord of large aquatic life, including some huge groupers, some eagle rays and about 40 sharks of various makes and models. Strangely, nobody was hesitant about being surrounded by so many of these perfect predators, but with good reason, as the sharks were far more concerned with just being awesome than nibbling on anything in a wetsuit. Just for the record, they really are pretty damn impressive creatures.
The festivities at La Digue will go down in history as one of the greatest weekends ever. The less said about that the better, except that Black Tree rum and coffee make a potent combination which does make it a little difficult to sleep. La Digue itself is pretty much island perfection (can you sense a theme here?), with some fantastic body surfing to be had. Ellie (Scotland, via most of the known world) made the astonishing discovery that wearing sunglasses while bodysurfing is a mistake. We all returned, if not well rested, then certainly excited about returning to work. Our office, in case I haven’t mentioned it, is underwater. Where’s yours? We wear wetsuits to work (actually, many of us just dive in board shorts). What do you wear to work? Does it give you the ability to breath underwater? Ours does.
Finally, on Wednesday, the 5 weekers Ali, Micah Barbara and Rosie left us for less awesome climates, and we bid them farewell in style – a sit-down banquet cooked by the staff! Stay cool, you lot.
Facts & Figures
Fact: Sunshine does make your hair quite a lot blonder – this has become apparent to your humble correspondent, as well as a few others.
10: The average distance in feet from Saturday’s 40 sharks to 12 ‘volunteer lunch packs’. I do need to reiterate that sharks are amazing. There’s only one thing with gills that is cooler. See the next point.
23: The number of volunteers who did not believe that the Dolphark is in the Bible. For those of you with older prints of the King James version, you will find mention of the Dolphark in Genesis 1:1. “And God created light, and then He saw the Dolphark”.