Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dispatches from Djibouti.... 1. Arrival

Well we all made it here safe and sound; after journeys which all seemed to include compulsory visits to several African countries to make connections, arrived at the small but efficient airport at Djibouti. Over a three day period, the expedition participants from Australia, France, Seychelles, South Africa and the UK all managed to convene at the correct hotel in Djibouti without having lost any baggage.... well one camera case did pay a fleeting visit to Somalia on its own but found its way to us in time!

Those of you who dread baggage weighing at international flight check in counter would have had nightmares as Katie and David checked in some 80 Kgs for the flight from the UK on Kenya Airways but this was well within the 45 Kgs each they were allowed so that was fine. Save Our Seas H.D. video cameraman Dan Beecham was ‘traveling light’ this time as it was a live-aboard expedition and so he only had 350 Kgs of equipment while Thomas Peshak the Save Our Seas chief photographer had a mere 120 Kgs!

Day one was spent chasing down the material we had not brought with us and we expected to have problems buying Formalin, a listed poison in many countries, which we needed for plankton preservation,..... However, to our surprise the local pharmacy knew exactly what we needed and had stock on the shelf. A quick visit to the local hardware shop secured a suitable rope for plankton tows and CTD casts and so we were all set for the off.

Le Petit camion struggling under Dan and Tom's kit

Loading up the ‘le petite camion’ with the Save Our Seas baggage was interesting, luckily several other 4 x 4s were on hand to handle everyone else and their kit and we were soon aboard the Deli getting settled in and sorting out equipment and eager for the first whale sharks! The crew were confident that we would get loads of sharks but confided that we ‘should have been here two weeks ago’ when they had seen an aggregation of over 40 whale sharks........ as we left the dock we were still in good spirits but blaming the ‘curse of the photographers’ for chasing the sharks away as we motored off towards Arta and Djibouti’s whale sharks!

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