Monday, January 17, 2011

16/01/11 Marine Team bed down on Curieuse

It ‘s only been six days, yet it feels like weeks since us nine tired, pastey and rather excitable volunteers clamboured aboard trusty little ‘Dexter’ (the finest of ocean cruisers!), and set foot on Curieuse, our very own four by two mile paradise island that is now home for the next 10 weeks!

Ruled only by the sun, rain and tide (oh and suitably intense GVI schedule) everyone seems to have settled into island life, sleeping meters away from the Indian Ocean, swimming in 28 degrees, gathering coconuts and spotting the endless abundance of Seychelles’ marine life.

There is also, of course, the waking up to the shriek of ‘Colonel’ and ‘Lightening’, our resident roosters, nursing sea urchin stings, cursing mosquitoes, dodging the daily moonsoon-like rain and bush toilet scrubbing, but no-one’s made a run (or swim!) for it yet.

After being cautioned against the several fish and coral that could potentially harm or administer quite a stinger (people back home we’ll send you a pic!), snorkels and fins came out and the seven strong marine team were duly rewarded for our long journeys with some fantastic first snorkel, trips metres from our doorstep. Bat fish followed us around the coral, angel and surgeon fish scurried around below us while emperor, angel fish and various tangs were also spotted. Duck diving to get close to the hiding eels we were lucky enough to discover a hawksbill turtle chilling out in the sea grass – an amazing introduction into what’s going to be our world for the next couple of months.

In between snorkelling, fish lectures, species identifiation, talks on coral reefs and marine research, beach volleyball and team bonding, diving has been a clear highlight for our first week here.

Eager to get out, everyone donned their flashy new kit and waded out to Dexter with excitement and anticipation. After some skills practice for those who hadn’t dived for a while, we enjoyed our first glimpses of Lionfish, Box fish, Porcupine, Tang and Surgeon fish, eels, Damsels and various coral species. Cameras came out and buoyancy was key (coming easier to some more than others, apologies for tank banging!) – even underwater it was clear everyone was practising their newly aquired fish identification skills, pointing and inspecting all the different characteristics - fish test? Bring it on! Another Hawksbill was spotted at about four and a half metres depth, which acted as a great source of interest during our safety stop and which we logged as part of GVI’s ongoing conservation work and research of the local turtle population.

Diving most days, the marine team are now experts in filling up our own tanks (questionable!), looking after the dive equipment and generally getting down with all things aquatic! All that’s left is to wash enough clothes to do it all again for another week!