Friday, February 7, 2014

7/2/14 - Cap T Week Three

Week Three

And so week three begins in earnest… It’s hard to believe we’ve been here for a full fortnight as some of the four-weekers have very little time left before they leave and are replaced by other eager volunteers. The camp is beginning to settle down and tasks are becoming more familiar with each passing day. Everyone appears to be familiar with the workings of the compressor, the required boat and grounds chores, and kitchen duty is becoming smoother and tastier. This morning we had the usual weekly full camp clean followed by a dorm clean, both of which make life just that wee bit more comfortable. Congratulations to Dorm 1 for having the cleanest and most presentable dorm! Long may it continue!

Of course, the diving is why we are all here, and our time over the past week has been well spent. Those participating in the Advanced Open Water Diver qualification have, under the direction of Lee B, completed Boat, Peak Performance Buoyancy, Navigation, Naturalist and Deep Dives, have finished their knowledge reviews and filled out the required PADI paperwork so those shiny new cards should be delivered soon! It’s really satisfying to have gained the AOW certification and we all look forward to honing and developing those skills as we continue to dive.

Fish, coral and invertebrate spots are dives where the students attempt to name species underwater, and serve as the mechanism by which classroom tuition is translated into practical recognition and identification on the reef. It can be quite daunting writing down a species on your dive slate, the pencil marks patiently waiting for a big OK or a not-so-good wavy hand from your spot leader which either makes you smile or sends you back to try again! Once we have achieved a good level of knowledge we will be signed off on our Group 1 species in the water, which will rank as another significant achievement.

We have sat our first exams on Group 1 species recognition, and Group 2 study is well under way with the Fish volunteers now focussing on groupers, sweetlips, parrotfish, rabbitfish, wrasse, triggerfish, emperors and snappers. 

Meanwhile, the coral guys and gals are learning all about the faviidae, fungiidae and siderastreidae families.

Two of the most interesting dives over the past week have been the turtle spot and the fun dive. The turtle spot begins with buddy pairs being dropped at consecutive points along the reef in order to cover as large an area as possible. The buddy pairs descend and navigate a particular pattern while looking for turtles. As soon as a turtle is spotted the navigation pattern is abandoned and, as long as it is safe, the buddy pair follow the turtle for as long as possible while recording the turtle’s activities. This was a massive success with only one buddy pair being unfortunate enough not to see a turtle, and a few of the other buddy pairs were treated to other megafauna delights such as guitar and white tip sharks, octopus and squid!

The fun dive does exactly what it says on the tin: a dive with no real objective other than enjoyment. Fish, coral and invert buddies were all mixed up which provided a differing viewpoint on the reef and the chance to share knowledge between and across the specialisms. It also provided a chance to work on buoyancy, mask clearing, regulator recovery and other skills with a new buddy, perhaps a different swimming style, and for some maybe a little more air consumption!

Thursday Barbeque Night provided the now standard level of entertainment with the entire camp pitching in to help prepare the barbeques and food, and this week we were treated to hand-made burgers, chicken legs, breadfruit crisps and home-made rolls. Also, the previous Dive Master students paid a visit and shared a couple of beers with us. It was great meeting them, getting some tips and pointers, and hearing about the dive centres which some of us will be working with and for in a few months time. Once the food was gone and the music started which kept us all entertained until the wee small hours and a few of those booked on a Friday morning shark dive didn’t make it!

Away from the reef, GVI works closely with the International Seychelles School and each week volunteers meet with the schoolchildren for lessons. The volunteers not only prepare the lessons in advance, but also deliver those lessons to the kids. This week concerned sea-grass, mangroves and coral reefs, and how they work together to clean the water, provide homes and shelter, and aid the entire local ecosystem. Three groups were led through three different lessons with each group summing up the key facts at the end of the lessons. Afterwards everyone enjoyed a frenetic game of bull shark (an adaptation of British Bulldog), nicely rounding off a very entertaining and fulfilling experience.

After a weekend without diving we are all itching to get back into the water and back on the reef so roll on another week at Cap Ternay!

-Martin, Divemaster Intern