Notes from a Pretty Large Island by Jan….

I’ve now been in Madagascar just short of two months with my girlfriend, Abby, who has taken over the Dive Manager’s role. The remoteness of this amazing place has come as a welcome change from the hectic lifestyle of home. You’ll find no 7/11 on the corner, nor Mackie D’s as the food out here is outstanding – imagine eating lobster, crab, large tunas, massive mackerels and the odd zebu kebab for six weeks with a cool THB beer (given an award from Belgium, so it can’t be bad). All this while watching one of the best sunsets you’ll ever see – and I’ve seen some good ones! For example, Whitsunday’s (Oz), Grand Canyon (America), Hout Bay (South Africa) and not forgetting that purple, grey haze over the UK. Alex has slowly eased me into the Expedition Manager’s role, as I too have to train in my benthic and fish identification, which as a diving instructor has been a little easier for me than some. They both give exciting and very informative talks on marine conservation and marine protected areas (MPAs) as well as play a mean game of football! The other day, the girls drew 0-0 and the guys won a historical 1-0 victory, to which I am sad to say I played no part as I was studying, then being tested on my benthic, but there will be plenty of opportunity to keep our winning streak on a roll (bring some moldies & shin pads!!!).

The diving out here is really good, visibility around 10 -15 metres on average with some days 20metres+ vis – never thought I’d get such a kick out of identifying coral but I truly am, mainly thanks to Lea & Ashley’s lectures and enthusiasm. Saw a turtle yesterday while diving at Javic. My diving buddy and science colleague, Stephanie, who was at that point supposed to be testing me on my benthic, couldn’t resist following the turtle as it was apparently the third turtle she’d ever seen. For those of you who’ve never seen a turtle it truly is an exhilarating experience when it actually happens. Humpback whales have been sighted and it’s only a matter of a week or two before our whale watching platform is built – I know some people out here will be having kittens when it’s finally up. Talking about kittens, a Coco Beach cat recently gave birth to four adorable kittens, so as long as the birds of prey don’t swoop down on them, they will soon be running around causing havoc and getting lots of attention from everyone, as if they don’t already!

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