Thursday, October 2, 2008

Not all work and no play!

The last few weeks have been a bit trying for the intern team as whale sharks were scarce and so opportunities to get out on the boats to see them were limited, but everyone pulled together as a team and things went smoothly.

The key to the MCSS programme has always been public participation and while the interns have a number of tasks that they have to accomplish, both in terms of monitoring the sharks and encounters and doing the environmental studies, they also have to involve the public in these activities as much as possible.

Happily, the interns are a very social bunch and are more than happy to involve our guests in all of the activities. Sarah’s diligence in spraying down the plankton off the net into the ‘bucket’ (photo above left) soon captivated youngsters Amy and Harry although who was to blame for the spraying of half of the boats occupants was somewhat of a mystery!

Amy, Sarah and Harry disputing who was the sprayer responsible for soaking half the crew!

Tomoko, our intern from Japan, has become very adept at the environmental monitoring and has no problem with running the CTD casts to 40 metres or more (photo right), however we don’t seem to get many guests volunteering for this aspect!. During the last week of September, our first specialist group of guests arrived with photographer Tony Baskyfield from the UK and we were concerned that the scarcity of sharks would be a problem. For two days we had not been able to get onto a shark; although there had been some aerial sightings the sharks were only staying on the surface for very short periods and we had some very disappointed guests….

For the next three days the water was crystal clear (measured at over 20 metres with the Secchi disk), Tony and his group had some great dives with Dive Seychelles, but no plankton meant no sharks….. and then our pilot Johan located a shark off L’ilot and the team dashed off tout suite! Tony and his group had waited for three days for this new young male shark but what a treat they were in for, with over an hour spent swimming and photographing the inquisitive and curious new arrival.

Team leader Katie checks out the newest arrival to the Seychelles whale shark aggregation, photo Tony Baskyfield

David and the interns heaved a collective sigh of relief and hoped that this would be the start of a return of sharks into the area… the next few days will tell!

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