Team bonding in tropical seas

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By Colin Engel, Blue Ventures volunteer, Belize

It had taken me a few days to settle into the basics of camp life during the previous week, so this week was for me one of beginning to challenge myself in ways which could contribute more to the aims of the expedition.

Being here for a shortened tour dictated that I should focus on narrower objectives. So I choose to concentrate on benthic life, rather than learn 50% of everything. This paid off, as I succeeded in passing my in-water benthic id test on this my final day: a great note on which to finish.

Our volunteer team has bonded really well both among ourselves and with the permanent staff. We are a multinational team with a slight weighting to the continent of Europe over that of the Americas. Conversation switches between English, German and Spanish, but the jokes seem to work well in most languages.

We volunteers are quite clear about the aims of the expedition and the wider project. Everyone is committed to following and developing an objective evidenced based approach to the data we observe and record. I see nothing but transparency and integrity in the methods and the manner in which they are followed.

Everyone is really friendly and keen to tackle all jobs. Specialist functions and qualifications apart, everyone willingly takes a hand at all the tasks and is ready to bring to bear all their previous skills and experience, alongside the new ones we are constantly learning on site. As I have chosen to focus only on the natural history, I am really impressed by those in the team who are doing that alongside improving their diving skills at the same time.

Everything in nature it seems has a balance of ups and downs. We endure some mosquito and sand fly bites and the odd tropical depression: in return for this we get to observe the entire biosphere of a tropical natural reserve and get even closer to the marine part with its crocodiles, sharks, rays, and the whole cross section of a healthy and pristine reef life chain.

Signing off and trusting that the rest of the expedition goes swimmingly.