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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pez Maya highlights October-December 2008 phase

Pez Maya News Points 084b

·      After the success of last phase’s base exchange with Mahahual, we sent another group of EMs to Punta Gruesa to spend a few days seeing how they work down there. EMs pitched in with duties and although the weather was not in their favour and they were unable to dive, they still had a great time mixing with new people and participating in community work. They also had a chance to learn more about underwater photography from experienced Mahahual staff. A few weeks later we were pleased to welcome four Mahahualians to Pez Maya. Again they pitched in with our base duties, joined some great volleyball games and we were lucky enough to enjoy some extra special culinary delights prepared by one of the EMs who was a trained chef. Hopefully the base exchange is now set to become tradition.

·      In November, four Pez Maya staff packed up their dive gear for five days and headed down to Punta Allen, a small fishing community within the reserve, about 1.5 hours from base. Their mission was to train 11 local fishermen to Open Water diver level so that they could take part in important fish aggregation monitoring with our partners, Amigos de Sian Ka’an. Although most of the fishermen involved were experienced in diving either from compressors or with tanks, they had no formal training so it was our job to make sure that they understood the theory behind scuba. Despite the chilly waters during the confined water sessions and the long hours of study, everyone involved had a fantastic time. There was a great spirit of camaraderie amongst the fishermen and the staff found it a rewarding experience as the fishermen were truly grateful for the training they received, knowing that they could now dive safely and within their limits. We look forward to continuing their PADI diving education in January with their advanced open water courses.

·      Huge congratulations to everyone who has completed dive courses at Pez Maya this phase. Fifteen new divers were certified to open water diver level, 18 EMs trained to advanced open water level, 15 new rescue divers and 8 new professional dive masters. Phew! A busy phase for staff and students alike. We wish all our divers fun and safe diving in the future.

·      Turbid water and a sand bank created from long shore drift as the summer sand bar at the lagoon mouth dispersed, attracted a new visitor to Pez Maya this phase – a shark! Spotted over several mornings, the unmistakable shark fin cruised up and down the shore at sunrise arousing excitement and curiosity rather than fear. The visitor is believed to have been a bull shark as they are known to frequent estuary areas for feeding as they use the murky waters for camouflage.

·      And finally, we are pleased to announce another GVI success story. Luli Noriega came to Pez Maya in July as a participant of the National Scholarship Programme. Luli’s dedication to the aims of the expedition and her winning smile won her the internship this phase and now sees her moving on to become permanent field staff at our sister base in Punta Gruesa, Mahahual. Although we are very sorry to be losing her, we wish her all the best for the future and know that Mahahual have got a real gem in her. Congratulations and good luck Luli!