Saturday, 28 December 2013

Marine Science Geek Heaven :D

Early in the last expedition I had the opportunity to go out with Minnie, our LMMA (Locally Managed Marine Area) coordinator, while she made the trip to demarcate one of our permanent reserves. This has been a long project; replacing the buoys marking the 5 no-take zone in Velondriake. Minnie worked tirelessly to get the buoys constructed in Andava to the right dimensions and working with the local communities to get them installed.

We took a vidette pulling a pirogue, holding the concrete base of the buoy. On the way our captain slowed the boat down as we passed by a hammerhead shark :D

Our boat convoy

When we got to the reserve it was no easy task positioning the pirogue exactly over the correct point. When in place the guys pushed the concrete block over the edge of the boat and it was done! The nadoodas from the reserves’ associated village had come with us to do a fumba (blessing) when we dropped it in. Once the fumba was complete we quickly moved through the reserve with a small sonar to undertake a quick survey of the area and then headed back to Andava in time for lunch!

Better Late Than Never!

I’m sorry it has been so long since I posted properly! I can’t believe I wrote the last post when were waiting for the next set of volunteers to arrive!! Those volunteers have now left too! I’ll try and fill you in on a few of the happenings of the last 6 weeks! My second expedition were just as great as the first, now I just have more people to miss having around! It was nice to feel settled into the routine of training the volunteers this time around. The first couple of weeks consisted of lots of lectures and watching some great presentations, given by the volunteers :)

Sophie, the sea cucumber, being fished by Claire :)

They all did so well and by weeks 3&4 we were already surveying! The last couple of weeks were great fun, coordinating our survey boats :) One good thing was that it was a small group so we could fit everyone into both boats! By the end of the sixth week we had completed our 8 remaining survey sites for 2013!

Dive Briefing

Entering the water

Over the 6 weeks we had some great party nights too. We had lots of different themes – Party Animals, Boardgames, things beginning with D and, of course, Christmas, to dress up for!

Party Turtle!

And of course I have to mention our amazing Thanksgiving dinner!! It was SO good!! A small army of cooks, lead by the other Lisa, slaved away all day to make this feast for over 30 people! Just look at all the food! Lisa even made Yorkshire puddings!...

Thanksgiving feast!

It was really sad to say goodbye to them on Sunday although with mum, dad and Nia visiting I was excited for the Christmas holidays :)

Expedition 8, 2013 Group Photo :)


Zanga Zombies!

I don’t think one post for the whole of the last expedition was really good enough! In week 3 Sam and I took the volunteers to Tampolove for their aquaculture trip. Our trip coincided with some juvenile monitoring and a small harvest of sea cucumbers (or Zanga, in Malagasy).

Tom helping with the juvenile monitoring

Walking across to the pens to help with some maintenance work

So shortly following this trip one of the volunteers started to write a script for a short film. A zombie film. Zanga Zombies! Filming started the following week and featured the majority of the volunteers and staff on-site, most of whom had death scenes!

Danelle and Vics getting into character!

So at this point I would like to inform you all that, despite my terrible acting skills, even I had a small role in the movie! Mid-way through the expedition I was the unfortunate ‘victim’ during a medevac scenario on Half Moon Beach; screaming from the water following a nasty (sharpie) head and leg wound after being ‘washed onto the rocks while snorkeling’. The director of Zanga Zombie thought my scream was film worthy and so my one and only scene in the film is my death scene when I am cornered in the water shed by a group of zombies!

There were some hilarious scenes with brilliant acting and we can’t wait to see the finished product!!

The film’s trailer has just been released… it is brilliant, watch it here...

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Merry Christmas :)

Merry Christmas Everyone :)

Our Christmas celebrations started on the last party night of the expedition…

Rudolph in sunglasses, celebrating Christmas party night in Andava :)

It was a great last night in Andava before our Christmas holidays started :)

Mum, dad and Nia arrived in Madagascar early in December and after spending a week travelling down to Toliara, they arrived in Andava a couple of days later although not too impressed with the journey!

We left Andava with all the volunteers on Sunday and stayed in Ifaty, just north of Toliara, over Christmas. On Christmas Eve we went for a sail on a pirogue…


...spent a little time by the pool…

Happy Christmas!! :)

...and then watched Love Actually before a huge Christmas dinner!


Christmas Day was lovely; Santa did very well to find us in Madagascar!


Now we are in Toliara, we just said veloma (goodbye) to Nia at the airport :( and mum, dad and I have just less than a week left of our summer holidays :) Veloma to you all for now and I promise to catch up with all the blog posts that I’ve been meaning to send in the past 6 weeks!

Keep Smiling & Happy Christmas :)