We’ve been back on site now in Andavadoaka for nearly three weeks, and most of the dive training is out of the way. The remaining trainees should finish their Advanced open water in the next few days and they will then be joining those volunteers and staff who are already busy out on the reefs with tape measures and slates. Nearly everyone has now passed their benthic tests – more difficult on this expedition than in the past as we are distinguishing between different types of hard coral (tabular, columnar, foliate etc). Only one person has so far passed their in water fish test however: our new field scientist Lea. We’re hoping others we hope will follow his lead tomorrow. Lea is also working on how to weld old tanks together using equipment from the Catholic mission – the aim being to create and artificial reef that we can put together on the sea floor somewhere between recruitment and 007 (two of our dive sites).
Further offshore, meanwhile, we have been out every day recently with a consultant taking depth soundings – part of the project we are working on with WCS. The aim of the trips is to accompany local fishermen to their regular fishing grounds and to find what sort of range is accessible to them in their pirogues. Ultimately this will help us identify the best sites for the two Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs) that we plan to moor here – large chain structures sunk in 200m or more of water that accumulate weed and fish and provide a draw for pelagic species in the area.
Apart from that camp life goes on pretty much as usual – diving from dawn, lectures and study in the afternoons, volleyball in the evenings, swimming at sunset. Plus of course the odd trip to the baobab trees (zebu carts, crowds of village children singing songs, spiny forest, flamingos – the usual.)