From Sarah Joy Linstead
It’s my 3rd week in Andavadoaka and we’re nearly half way through the expedition already. Time flies in paradise. I came here to be with my boyfriend Louis, one of BV’s field scientists, but I’m also one of the volunteers on expedition 40 because I wanted to get involved and do something useful while I’m here. It has been an incredible experience so far, not least because I am learning to dive.
I was an absolute beginner, having never snorkelled before or even swum with fins, I’m a singer/songwriter, not a marine biologist and this is a whole new world for me. My first two dives were a bit of a challenge to say the least but I persevered, have come through the abject terror and am now able to thoroughly enjoy being in the water. I’ve completed the confined water tests, apparently with flying colours and have been released into the open water!
My first Open Water dive was amazing. Louis and I just went for a swim around in a relatively shallow area full of corals and fish. We went to about 10m maximum depth and were down for 45min. It was totally incredible; it was like swimming round in a giant aquarium. The visibility was really good and there were SO MANY fish! I got the books out when we got back and can confirm that I saw: several Moorish Idols; Parrotfish; Halfmoon Triggerfish; Rabbitfish; huge schools of Snappers & Sweepers; Lizardfish; Long-fin Bannerfish; Anemone fish; a massive grumpy looking Stonefish; multi-coloured, neon Wrasses; Red Soldierfish; sea cucumbers and, best of all, an octopus with a head as big as mine who crawled out from under his rock and sat on top of it while we looked at him for several minutes. I have learnt that octopus really do have gardens! They create a little area outside their hiding-holes to attract a mate! I didn’t see this guy’s garden but it was amazing to see him, he was loads of different colours which changed as we looked at him and if Louis hadn’t pointed him out I wouldn’t have seen him because he was so well camouflaged as the rock, coral and algae he was sitting on. I also saw hundreds of different corals, hard and soft. I didn’t know there was such a thing as soft coral before I came here, I was totally ignorant of sea life really, I’m learning fast!
I now know that all organisms that live on the sea floor, known as the Benthos, are Benthic. This includes all hard and soft corals and various invertebrates, many of which I can now identify! I moved onto fish this week, of which there are about 150 we must learn to identify in the water. To help with the process every volunteer was given a family to learn about and present to the rest of the group as creatively as they felt inspired. This is the world I am more comfortable with and rose, I think, quite successfully to the challenge… My family was the Triggerfish, there are 6 of them we need to learn, I wrote these words, to be sung to the tune of Nancy Sinatra’s song, from the Kill Bill sound-track (probably called Bang Bang but I’m not sure…
Trigger Fish Song
By Sarah Joy
I’m going to teach you 5 or six,
Different kinds of triggerfish,
Some are striped, some black and white,
Some, when nesting, pick a fight…
He’ll shoot you down.
You’ll hit the ground.
That awful sound.
Triggerfish will shoot you down.
Their trigger-like first dorsal fin,
Can lock upright and, watch him swim,
Dorsal two and anal fin you’ll see,
Bang Bang! Etc.
Their tails are every shape and size,
But they’re all deep bodied with high set eyes,
Their mouths are small their snout is large,
They’re carnivores, their teeth are sharp.
The Picasso is a bit confused,
He’s yellow, brown, black, white and blue,
The Scythe is beige, his tail is white,
The Orange stripe has… orange stripes.
The Halfmoon is a dirty brown
And looks quite boring next to Clown
Who’s yellow tailed with yellow lips,
Black with white spots and blue fin tips.
And last the Moustache, please beware
Of the Triggerfish with facial hair,
He’s yellowish with greyish spots
And guards his nest with his nasty chops
Triggerfish will shoot you down!