A Happy New Year to one and all!
And Djibouti 2012 is officially underway, with the first of the three week expeditions arriving back in port as we post this report.
The first week was one of great contrasts for the team with the week starting off really well with four sharks on the afternoon of arrival at Arta and a respectable 43 encounters between the two survey boats the following morning. But after that the sharks appeared to move off and despite the extended survey all the way to Boutres (just before the entrance to the Ghoubet) only four sharks were encountered and very little plankton.
However things started to pick up on Wednesday night when an 8 m shark visited the boat at night, followed by four others feeding under the lights of the boat.
Back at Arta the sharks and plankton were back in force with 130 encounters and 61 different sharks had been identified by I3S photo-identification by close of play on Wednesday. Things were really hotting up on Thursday with plankton tows full of arrow worms and sharks vertical feeding all over the place; Gareth clocked up a commendable 54 encounters of his own that afternoon! Needless to say they are now a bit behind with the photo ID!
The team also recorded an interesting case of turtle brutality when one team saw a turtle on an encounter this morning, which proceeded to swim up to the whale shark and bite it on it's pectoral fin! Guess that’s a new ‘threat’ to whale shark management!
The team are working hard on the data and have totaled 317 encounters for the first week; although they haven't completed the photo-identification yet, they have promised to send a post and some pictures in the next day, so watch this space for updates….