The week started off with Sarah and the volunteers having a cultural tour of North West Andros, at Red Bays, whilst the interns studied for their dive master qualification. The director of Fulfar; a nearby field station, introduced us to local crafts and tradesmen which allowed us to view the remote parts of the island intimately and purchase some of the beautiful handmade wicker baskets.
By the end of the week we were all aching to dive, which had been put off by storms and high winds. Thursday was our lucky day, where we said goodbye to the bad weather and Lara and I did four dives! Lara and I also managed to pass our in water fish tests meaning we were able to start surveying reefs asap and we completed our PADI advanced training. Visiting the new site Gadrilly was a brilliant dive; the reef seemed so beautiful and healthy with huge variety of fish and coral species, encouraging us to start surveying to hopefully help it stay that way. Ge and I also had a close encounter with a Nurse Shark; we couldn’t believe it when it swam directly toward us and right under our feet!
Friday was a busy diving day too. We were lucky enough to dive to the Tongue of the ocean, a 6600ft drop into the great blue abyss. Gently sloping coral lead up to this epic drop off and we were all stunned as we suspended over the black water. During the dive we all heard strange pinging sounds which made it even more surreal. We later found out it was Autec’s (a Navy testing base) deep sea submarine sonar; a pretty unique experience!
Lara and Sarah did our first fish survey of the expedition; a really exciting milestone. It is really rewarding to know the work we have put in will go toward conserving the reef and hopefully preserving it’s beautiful diversity.
After a busy week, we enjoyed a BBQ/brie on a secluded island off the shore of Andros. It’s powder white sands and turquoise clear waters made it picturesque and a lovely, relaxing end to a great week. Ge then gave an awesome lecture on Whale Sharks, sharing with us her previous experience in the Philippines where she observed and collected data on the affects of tourism on the local Whale Sharks. Despite all the positives, we had to say goodbye to Lara which was a horrible and emotional send off for all of us; the camp certainly wont be the same without her!!