Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Interns Emerge.... Week 1: 22-28 August

Well they all survived, mostly intact! Here's intern Susie Lilley's first ever internet blog... find out what happens during 'Boot Camp'.....

Our first day as Interns started with our first lecture from Dr David Rowat (or Dr D), this was to be our morning routine for the next week.

Our first lecture was on an overview of Whale sharks in the Seychelles filling all us ‘Newbies’ in on all things Whale shark. This was followed by an extremely exhausting (cough cough) afternoon of snorkelling with Gareth, one our team leaders. His main aim was to find out how competent we were are duck diving, as this is required to get the ID shots for each shark....more on this later.

Having shown Gareth our prowess at diving to depths of 5m+ we spent the rest of the time checking out the local wildlife and finding the elusive resident Turtle. With a beer on offer to the first person to see him, the chase was on, however the title of ‘MCSS Turtle Spotting Champion’ was retained by Gareth ‘speedy’ Jeffreys for another year.

The rest of our week followed much the same pattern, with Lectures from Dr D in the mornings covering such topics as Aerial Survey Techniques, Catch, Mark and Recapture including population estimates, Satellite tagging and Laser photo techniques. Afternoons followed these by practical demonstrations on Laser Photography in the bay in front of the office with Gareth– finding our first (pretend) whale shark that let us practice our duck diving and photographing (sounds easy but trying to photograph whilst holding your breath and trying to stay down is a lot harder than you think, and this was just practice on a stationary whale shark) ......eek! Imagine what its going to be like when it’s a real one moving at speed!

Laser Camera used to ID Sharks

Other afternoons were spent in the office working through the procedures and paperwork that we have to do on a daily basis. Learning how to radio to the pilots and fill out the correct information, learn the boat procedures for when both MCSS staff and clients are onboard.

Wednesday is when the fun started, learning how to Identify the sharks using the I3S system. Each shark has its own pattern of spots, stripes and markings, this is the sharks ‘unique fingerprint’ and it is this that allows Abi and the team to discover whether its a new shark is in the area or whether its a returning shark from previous years. This ‘fingerprint’ is taken from a triangle taken from the top to the bottom of the last gill slit to the end of the pectoral fin.

Abi teaching Mark and Sam how to photo ID whale sharks

This fun day was followed up by the Interns first trip to the Bazaar in Beau Vallon, followed by a few rounds of pool at the local hotspot La Faya. This is also the day I annoyingly managed to partially slip my disc and have therefore been office based ever since.......

Relax time at the weekly Beau Vallon Bazaar

Thankfully we had the whole weekend off (our last one for 2 months – eek) before starting again next week when hopefully everyone, except me :-( would get out on the boat for training and get to see their first Whale Sharks up close....

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