Friday, January 22, 2010

Dispatches from Djibouti #4.... Thanks to the team

The 2010 Djibouti expedition is now over and it’s time to give a big vote of thanks to the team that made it happen. In particular, the two MCSS team leaders Abi March and Ciara McCarten were the driving force that kept everything (and everyone!) on track and deserve a special vote of praise... all the guests commented not only on how well they organised the boats but also on their in-water skills and seemingly endless enthusiasm for the ‘back-room’ paperwork... Data! Data! Data!

Their special treat of the trip was the visit to the DECAN sanctuary where they got to stroke both a cheetah and a hyena and to pose with a zebra at sunset!

Quick to learn and happy to help was the Megaptera eco-volunteer Laetitia who soon had the day to day routine mastered and was not at all phased by the data entry. She was accompanied on the trip by her favourite teddy-bear and was keen that he should also get to see the whale sharks but this presented some problems as Teddy’s are not renown for being very waterproof. However, Hussain Al Qalef from Kuwait (or Mr. Gadget as he became known) soon developed a Teddy Submersible using a camera housing and dome port and so even Teddy got to see some of the in-water action!

Michel Vely, the irrepressible President of Megaptera, kept everybody’s sides splitting with his non-stop antics and good humour while Danile Jouannet, the quiet brains behind the organisation of the expedition, managed to keep Michel under some sort of control.

Both were more than happy to do their fair share of the recording and data entry duties while both showed that they could also deliver on the in-water tasks as well. Dr. David was in charge of the science side of the expedition and split his time half in the ‘office’ (the large table in the boat’s salon where the data entry tasks were carried out) and half on the boats either recording or doing his bit for the in-water data gathering.

While there was no way that the team were going to be able to keep up with processing the photo ID s from 80+ encounters each day, they were able to keep up with the data transcription. This was only possible due largely to the supply of 100s of extra copies of record sheets that Captain Vincence organised to be printed in Djibouti At the Dolphin Marine Services Offices and that Bruno, Nicolas and the team managed to somehow get transported across miles of desert and mountains to the ship!

Our thanks also to all the crew of the Deli without which this programme would not be possible.... we will be back again next year!

.....more snapshots from Djbouti shortly

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