Mike Cowdry - Madagascar 2005
Mike Cowdy was a research volunteer for Blue Ventures on the February 2005 expedition in Madagascar.
The alarm goes off, (in my case that was one of my fellow volunteers shouting at me to get up) I ask the time, and he replies ‘05:50’. Yes it really was the unthinkable time of 05:50. The first diving brief was at 06:00, so I had a few minutes to get myself sorted. I arrive at the briefing just in time and find out the details of where the dive is going to be. The dive was to be completed at ‘Lost’ where the group and I are to undergo part of our ‘Advanced’ diving.
The dive was spectacular both due to the visibility and the vast array of tropical fish, ranging from the small Bluestreak Wrasse to the large Potato Grouper. After diving in 30-degree water for 50 minutes we head back to camp for breakfast. I am absolutely starving so I help myself to two big bowls of rice and socolait, copius amounts of bop bops and some fruit.
Now the time between breakfast and lunch was free because the rest of the expedition had to carry out their dives. I decide to spend part of my time relaxing in a hammock learning both Benthic and fish I.D. with the remaining time partaking in my own project, which was to measure the local fishing impact on the shark population. This required me interacting with the local fishermen and shark dealers in the village. Also it was a good excuse to visit the local Epi bars and feed my habit for……..biscuits!!!!!
Once complete it was time for lunch at 13:00, so we all make our way to the restaurant and get served the freshest of fish, rice, potatoes, vegetables and beans.
After lunch we all go to the classroom and listen to a lecture by David and Emma on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The lecture, unlike those at university, is not that long and yet provides you with a good knowledge of the topic.
Following the lecture the group are split into smaller groups and take part in GPS marking the local features of Andavadoaka. I along with three others are allocated the local paradise island Nosy Hao. Arriving by pirogue (the local sailing boat) in record time thanks to the skills of Toma, we GPS mark all the settlements and snorkel the local waters looking for suitable spots for snorkelling. Following the completion of the trip we head back to the camp where we have 1.5 hours free time until Vao Vao.
Usually during this period a friend and I usually swim to Andavadoaka Rock, however this time a few of us decided to swim to Le Havre, where we had the opportunity to dive and jump off the top deck, around 8m in height finishing it off with a perfect view of the sun set.