Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Goodbye from James....

As the 2013 Seychelles whale shark season draws to a close a few last posts from the interns and team, this one from James... 
Well, it’s my last day in the MCSS house. The whale shark season is over and the team is breaking up, Freya having left on Friday the 19th for GVI and Matt having gone home the following Tuesday. We also said goodbye to one of our pilots Johan. One particularly memorable moment was having to go and rescue him and Dave (a DM at the underwater centre), after they were forced to land on Grande Anse beach. We arrived on the scene to provide a new battery for the radio, to find Johan, dressed much like Lawrence of Arabia attempting to explain to some stunned locals and tourists why he had landed in their midst in a bright orange plane. It certainly caused quite a stir, as did his eventual take-off, minus Dave who was deemed too heavy to make the return flight.
 Johan doing his Lawrence of Arabia impersonation...
Pete, Johan, Savi, Me (James) and a bemused if not relieved Dave!
Whilst the loss of such good team members has created a sense of nostalgia, the last week has been one of the best of the season. With a combined total of six shark seen from the air over the final two days. On Thursday the team was sent out with no clients to see what we could find. The result was an afternoon spent gathering data and snorkelling with two young male whale sharks off the Ile au Vaches. This was a truly memorable day shared by the team, including Dirk our pilot who did several fly byes and kept up a stream of chat over the radio.

 Dirk doing a fly-by on our interns only trip

The following day we took clients out and Dirk saw four sharks from the air. It was a great afternoon and a fitting end to the season with the longest encounter we’ve completed with a shark (50min). I particularly enjoyed my half hour spent alone in the water with a four metre male as we steadily moved away from clients and the boat. In the end he dived down into the big blue and whilst it was sad to recognise the fact whale shark season was now over I couldn’t help but laugh into my snorkel as I pictured Matt (had he been present at this moment) doing one of his memorable impressions to capture this moment as the shark eventually disappeared. David took us back after the trip and the whole team celebrated what has been a memorable season over a few beers, as the sun set on the MCSS balcony.
 A well-earned celebratory beer on the office balcony....

However, our adventures were not yet over, as Savi, Sarah, Ali, Freya and I headed to Praslin and La Digue for the weekend. This proved to be a fantastic trip during which we visited the Valley de Mai to see the endemic coco de mer and took a day trip to La Digue. This stands out as one of the best days we have had as a group over the course of the season. Renting bikes and cycling round the Island stopping off at some of the most stunning beaches in the world, it was a trip full of non-stop laughter and some questionable photography, ahem Freya!

 James, Alison, Freya, Savi and Sarah explore La Digue....
 James and the girls.... nearly a calendar shot!

Personally, for me, it was a nice way to say goodbye to everyone, as I leave tomorrow morning at 5:40am, unfortunately missing the end of season barbecue. However, I do think I speak for all of us though when I say these two months in the intern house, working with the sharks and living with great friends have been some of the best I have ever spent abroad! I thoroughly recommend it to other people interested in stepping out of their comfort zone.
Finally it is important to recognise our fantastic team who have all been so patient particularly with yours truly regarding data entry. They have been a great laugh and have ensured we have spent a memorable two months in the Seychelles. So a big thanks to David, Jo, Sam, Pete and Savi for making our stay one to remember!

Awe but not for good I hope