Friday, November 26, 2010

I heart coral....who would have thought it?

Greetings and Salutations, loyal readers, and my grateful thanks for returning to your official Seychellois news service. It has been a busy and fantastic week here in Cap Ternay, so have somebody you love tuck you into bed with a glass of warm milk (laced with whiskey, if that is your pleasure) and I’ll begin the story from page 1. Recommended auditory stimulation for the next few minutes: Joy Division.

After a busy week with our noses firmly planted into the ocean floor examining recruit corals 1cm or so across, most of the volunteers were looking forward to a relaxing weekend, perhaps assisted with a liberal dose of the exquisitely heady Black Tree rum mixed with some coffee. Or not mixed at all…straight from the plastic bottle. Either way, the usual weekend shenanigans did not occur for the majority of the group, as they had two days of their rescue diving course to complete before heading off to their respective dive shops as interns at the end of phase. Hangovers are never what any sane person would label fun (just ask Leon, Brian and Lee, all UK), but this is especially true when there is a large dive master playing the part of a distressed diver, removing your mask and regulator and quite literally attempting to drown you so that you know what it’s really like. Fantastic stuff.

Those not involved in the rescue diving (Maggie, Vince, Tricia, Robbie and your humble correspondent) embarked instead on a tour of the southern beaches of Mahe. Although we had never met a car hire business more reluctant to part with its vehicles, we finally managed to cram ourselves into a little Daihatsu and begin our epic journey, which would include plenty of playing chicken with buses and driving on the wrong side of the road (both us and everybody else). See attached photo of us. We also discovered how much it costs to repair hire cars if the driver damages them. Your humble correspondent won’t be living in the lap of luxury any longer. Enter expletives here.

The key to seeing as much awesome fauna (and that includes coral, which is apparently an animal – who knew?) as you possibly can is to spend time in the water. When you’re not diving, the best way to do this is to snorkel. This may not sound like much fun, but all those who regularly spend 5 hours at the headlands of Baie Ternay will attest that there is a veritable bevy of life to be seen. When you’re doing surveys, your face is literally inches from the seafloor and your mind full of the vocabulary of coral: Does it have prominent septacostae? Are the paliform lobes visible? Does it appear to be suffering from bleaching, disease or grazing? You get the point – a whale shark could pass you by no further than 10 feet and you wouldn’t notice. Although, coral is awesome enough that you might not care. See attached photos of what we spend hours looking at. Anyway, snorkeling offers the opportunity to refocus your optical apparati (and cameras) on less scientific pursuits. Plus, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. And on that note, I’m going to go have a beer. The Seychellois beverage, phlegmatically named SeyBrew, is really rather good. Cheers!

This week’s volunteer soundtrack provided by: Ride – Going Blank Again; Jose Gonzalez – In Our Nature; The Prodigy – Music for the Jilted Generation.

Volunteers dressed by: Billabong, Red Snapper, Mares.

Facts & Figures:

400: The number of schooling parrot fish seen feeding by Kieron and your humble correspondent. Parrot fish are quite large for reef fish and eat corals and rock with algae on it, then excrete sand. Beaches are predominantly composed of parrot fish excrement (check your encyclopaedia if you don’t believe me). So 400 parrot fish all doing that at once creates a cloud of…well…you get the point. We couldn’t see. And we were swimming in it. Amazing.

50: The number of days since a volunteer last wore shoes.

0: The number of times the Dolphark has worn shoes. The Dolphark doesn’t have feet. Just teeth.