By Axelle, Expedition Manager in Andava
I arrived on the 1st of August to take the role of Expedition Manager. I must say that the last two months were full on, and I struggled to know what to tell my friends and family, let alone in a blog ! – as I just didn’t know where to start…
But this week I decided that I had to let everyone know about my amazing day with the zenga foti… (pronounced zenga fouti) It all started when Georgi said that 1400 juvenile white sea cucumbers (zenga foti in vezo, which has also become her nickname!) were coming our way, and needed to be transferred to their new homes, the pens we had built south of Andavadoaka and in Ambolimoke (20km north of Andava). The objective is to create an alternative source of income for the families of those villages, as sea cucumbers are in high demand in China.
Anyway, those little squiggy things are quite precious, and we had little time to transfer them from the fishing boat, where they had spent the previous 12 hours, into the pens. Club Alo Alo and our boat Volanirina were set up for the commando mission. Angelo, Lyuba, Goff and myself took 300 sea cucumbers and rushed off to release them into the warm waters of the nearby bay. We released them one by one, taking care of them like newborn babies! Four of them are now named after us, hum, maybe that was too much?!
Back on half moon bay, the other delivery had got stuck because of the low tide. But sea cucumbers need to be oxygenated! All the volunteers took it in turns to replace the seawater by taking a bucket in and a bucket out, for a good couple of hours… Finally, as the tide was coming back in, Madablu, our super fast new boat, roared away to urgently deliver the sea cucumbers to Ambolimoke. Mission accomplished!
And that wasn’t all… The hatchery in Tulear needed adults that would be able to reproduce to ensure the next delivery of juveniles. Zenga foti are normally buried in the sand during daytime, so we had to wait until 10pm before we started to make our way to the pens. It was a beautiful walk, under the shooting stars, hi ho, hi ho, collecting sea cucumbers we go! The tide was very low, and the phosphorescence was shining under our steps… In the pens, we found the sea cucumbers, but we also saw juvenile puffer fishes, trumpet fishes, crabs and a beautiful white moray eel…
At 1am, I was in bed, leaving a dream for another…
It was wonderful to read some recent news as a mother of one of the volunteers,Emma. Just this snippet of news enabled me to share just a little in her wonderful adventure.
Please give her all our love.