Monday, September 23, 2013

This weeks contribution is from our intern Freya.... starting with a cautionary tale for all team leaders...

A wise man once told me that a blog should come from within. I have decided to follow this advice and write a blog from the heart which just happens to include this photo, one that means a lot to me and the interns (make of it what you will). Be careful what advice you give Savi! 
Scholar Savi models the latest fashion in shorts..... but who's shorts were they?

On a more serious note, today it has officially been one month since I waved goodbye to my teary parents at a little train station in Devon and began my travels to the warmer waters of the Seychelles. Time has flown by since arriving here and in one month I have already started ticking off my bucket list (swim with whale shark…check, fly in microlight…check, complete a 7 year olds triangular puzzle…check, finish G.I.Sing before 10am…if only). We are almost half way through the season already and it looks like the sharks simply missed the turning for Seychelles last year, because this year the plankton is blooming and the season is booming! We have already had plenty of successful trips and the whale sharks wide grins are rubbing off on clients and interns alike after every encounter.

A very smiley shark, with friends..

For us interns the morning involves entering data from the day before (or even the day before that, which adds to the fun!) or being down in the dive centre taking bookings, helping clients and enjoying the occasional bit of banter with the divers. But the real fun doesn’t start until the afternoon where the tension in the house is palpable from 11am onwards while we await that all important phone call from the pilot. We’re all praying for those three magic words ‘sharks were spotted’ or ‘there are sharks’ or even ‘we’re going sharking’ (in fact any combination of three words implying we will be seeing sharks). And once they’ve been uttered the house becomes alive with excitement and anticipation. But for us interns it’s not over yet. Even if a boat does go out the ultimate question is, who will be on it? A question that can only be answered one way…the plankton pot (a small, plastic pot burdened with the fate of 5 eager interns). We all place our names into the pot and draw one out to decide who will be on the boat in the afternoon, a truly heart stopping and not at all bias (the pot favours Matt) experience. Once the mornings antics are over and we’re out on the boat, it’s an exciting race to find the sharks before they dive and collect all the data we need (made all the more fun by sea sickness, crazy skippers and me always choosing to sit on the wet side of the boat).

Me getting wet on the boat!

About three weeks have passed since my first boat trip and shark encounter. A trip where everything I had been taught in training week went out the window and I simply stared in awe at the shark (and some charming devil rays who decided to show up). Since then everything is coming together and I’m finding it easier to keep my head in the water and get some ‘science’ done. Everyone is becoming more comfortable with the sharks and as the season progresses we’re getting the chance to try our hand at spotting (every whale shark monitoring enthusiast’s dream). Not only does spotting involve leading a group of clients on the experience of a lifetime, but one is also tasked with sexing, identifying, sizing, and most importantly actually keeping up with the shark. 

Me enjoying one of my first sharks

This week I was spotter for the first time, which just happened to fall on our busiest day so far. With a total of 21 encounters I was in and out of the water like a… waterproof yo-yo? I wish I could say it was easy and the sharks turned left then right for ID photos and then dipped upside down and politely displayed thier claspers. But no they didn’t, and no it wasn’t easy… these sharks were on a mission. Almost every shark I was in on wanted to give me a work out, and by the end my legs had turned into jellies like the ones ruthlessly stinging me as I swam to keep up. However towards the end the sharks started to feel sorry for me with my obvious lack of fitness (and gills) and did occasionally slow down for moments before jetting off again. Thankfully I managed to break through the wall (mentally, physically and literally…there was a wall of fusiliers blocking my path) and sex, size and photograph most of the sharks, something that would have been a miracle on my first encounter where I forgot to turn the camera on in my excitement. 

The wall of fusiliers ..... very frustrating when you're trying to get ID photos!

If the boat doesn’t go out and all the data entry is finished we sometimes get the afternoon off to see more of the island (namely Sunset beach 50m down the road). Last week however, we broadened our horizons and hiked to Anse Major. Ironically getting to the start was more of a hike than the walk itself, but luckily the buses in Seychelles are spacious and air-conditioned…We all enjoyed the idyllic viewpoints and were representing MCSS along the way!

Body language.... spelling MCSS

At the end of each day, whether it involved spotting, hiking, G.I.Sing or sunbathing we’re all knackered and look forward to an evening chick-flick (especially James) and a nice early bed before a new day spent connecting the dots in the whale shark mystery!



1 comment:

Johan Anderson said...

Hey guys, I enjoy your write-ups! Do some more! :)Now all you need to do is reciprocate by sharing a link to the "pilots" blog too. That way you can also get the "pilots" perspective! :)
www.wingsandwhalesharks.blogspot.com