Emily Carroll - Madagascar 2004
Emily Carroll was on the December 2004 expedition during her gap year and then went on to study Biology at Edinburgh University.
Andavadoaka is probably the most beautiful place on the planet. The water remains a constant 31degrees and the sun beats down incessantly onto the powder-white sand. Each day, we get up at 05.00 ready for the first dive at 05.30. This is the best time to dive: before the sun intensifies and when the air still has a breath of cool left in it. The reefs are stunning; just this week I’ve seen well over 12 families of fish.
We’ve had to learn hundreds species of fish, even different life stages depending on whether they were male, female and juvenile. One dive in particular stood out, my best to date. My dive buddy and I came across the biggest pufferfish we’d ever seen. It was around three feet long and had a cross section the girth of a dinner plate. Huge, glassy, puppy-dog eyes, spaced far apart. It had cute little fins fanning continuously to keep it hovering in one place and was a dusky worn black colour, faded and scratched like an old whale. Completely un-phased by us, it bobbed off into the blue. The dive continued to provide us with extraordinary fauna, right to the last minute – we saw potato groupers the size of small dogs, a white tip reef shark, great barracudas and immense shoals of rabbit fish, weaving their way around us as we dived. The diving has been extraordinary, I’m completely hooked!
There is so much more to tell, like our walk to the Baobab forest crossing bright pink salt flats and stumbling over fossilized coral, tremendous views at the top of the hill, sailing from Half Moon Beach in a pirogue on Christmas Eve, the local childrens’ amazing singing performance at the christmas midnight mass and of course the nativity service. The six weeks went at lightning pace and I had the best time of my life.