Tuesday, February 8, 2011

08/02/11 Time to get down to business

“Base, base, base, this is Manta, Manta, Manta. Coming in on 68, do you copy? Over.” Today has started just like any other. Breakfast.Duties. And of course diving! However today was not just another day. Today was the 4th of February 2011 – the day the surveying started. After weeks (4 to be exact) of fish studies, fish exams, fish spots and practise methodology sessions, the 16 Cap Ternay campers have finally been let loose in the abyss that is Baie Ternay to start surveying the fish (and a few special invertebrates) that call it their home.

Surveying consists of 2 divers entering the water, with no supervision, and doing point count surveys (staying in one place and count the fish) or belt surveys (swimming along 50m of the coral reef and counting, and sizing, the fish that you swim past). The surveys take place in either a deep or shallow place on the reef, with extra specifics such as in the centre, to the left or to the right of the centre point (that’s an obvious landmark that marks the central point of our surveys). Each diver is responsible for their own depth limits, time limits, fish spotting, fish sizing and compass bearings. Many people would fear such independence, but for the 16 of us here, this is what we live for – what makes it reasonable to have a wake up time of 6am every morning!!

Not only is surveying enjoyable due to the fact we are finally able to starting using our growing wealth of knowledge, but it is also a pretty great feeling to be left alone (well, just you and your buddy) in the big blue. Maybe a little scary and daunting at first, but also fulfilling as you’ve been trusted by the people you’ve lived with for the past month to undertake some relatively important work.

One of the best bits? Being able to have a ‘fun’ 10 minute dive at the end of the surveys; an entire 10 minutes spent observing the various colourful fish that swim, sleep and eat around you. Before you know it, your 45 minutes of underwater paradise are up and it’s time to go from being a fish back to being human and head back to shore – duties and data entering don’t disappear just because we swim with the fishies! All in all, not a bad day in the office, if I do say so myself! Bring on the next 6 weeks!