Intern Alison reflects on the season thus far and its impending closure... as well as quite a few other things!
As whale shark season starts to wind down, unfortunately we must start saying goodbye. Not goodbye to the sharks, not quite yet. No, we are saying goodbye to two people I have become good friends with over the past two months. First, Freya has moved on to volunteer with GVI where she will be diving everyday and conducting fish surveys in the beautiful Baie Ternay Marine Park. Next, Matt will be heading home to England to plan his next adventures- maybe volunteering with the roos and wallabies in Australia, or researching basking sharks in the UK? The interns and staff wish both of them the best of luck, and thanks for all the hard work, good memories and laughs (especially Matt’s impressions).
Matt moving into position to get his photos...
We will all miss Freya in the last week...
Meanwhile, the rest of the interns left are extremely happy the whale shark season has been extended for another week. Although there aren’t the large numbers of sharks we had seen earlier in the season, almost everyday the pilot flies in the air he manages to spot one. Of course none of us care that there is only “just one shark”, we are just as pleased to swim with one shark as we are with three or four.
There is always the day where the sharks play really hard to get, even if there were spotted by the pilot earlier. We had one of those dreaded days where we wait in nervous anticipation bobbing around the ocean, hoping the pilot will find us a shark soon before we have to head back to the dive centre empty handed. Just as all hope seems lost, the radio comes to life with the pilot’s excitement as he states “I have a shark for you!” and both clients and staff can breathe a sigh of relief as they hop into the water with shark.
Otherwise the sharks seem to be much more content to be observed. One shark, which is quite distinctive by his scars, most notably his lack of a top tail fin, was seen two days in a row. On one day, he was the only shark spotted that day and as a result, everyone spent quite a good amount of time with him in the water. At first he seemed playing a game of cat and mouse with the boat. As soon as swimmers were put in the water, he would swim very fast or dive too deep to see. However, he would pop up minutes later and repeat the process all over again. After being a bit camera shy in the beginning, the shark started to relax and let the swimmers follow him for much longer. I think in the end this shark was quite keen to be the star of the show!
A much more chilled shark!
When unfortunately there are no sharks spotted on the morning flight, we still try to make the best of the situation by getting plenty of beach and snorkeling time in. This weeks snorkeling and diving adventure took us to the Baie Ternay again, where three turtles, two eagle rays, a shoal of squid, an overly friendly bat fish and a mantis shrimp were spotted, not to mention the thousands of fish and beautiful corals that inhabit the marine park. A few of the interns even tried a night snorkel off Sunset Beach. They weren’t very successful in their hope of seeing devil rays attracted by the floodlights of the hotel, but it was still an entertaining experience.
Night snorkel was fun if not too productive!
Spotted eagle rays are firm friends...
As are the local turtles!
We’re hoping the rest of the week is filled with sharky goodness as everyone is eager to see as many sharks as we can before they leave until next year. Even if we don’t see another whale shark this year, I think I can safely say all of the interns will treasure this experience for the rest of our lives. But here’s hoping we can see maybe just a few more wonderful whale sharks before we leave!