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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Week 9 in Pez Maya! Storms, turtling, and preparing a coral reef show!

By Bex and Foxy

A frustrating week in camp this week saw us miss several dives due to the adverse weather conditions… not so bad that we couldn’t still make the most of the outdoors, but bad enough that the swell often reflected scenes from The Perfect Storm. The weather did, however, provide an interesting sight that very few will have had the privilege to see before – a massive water spout stretching from the sea to the cloud, fortunately it was over the sea about 400 meters away, we could safely sit and watch it from base. Another one for the amazing weather sightings this week was a fully arcing rainbow, viewed from the boat on my way to a dive site.

It coincidentally appeared to be ending over the top of base, I quickly grabbed the radio and alerted volunteers that a pot of gold was almost definitely somewhere on base! It also permitted several volunteers to shower from the run off rain in the communal area – one in particular making the very most of it, having a total of three showers in one day! Cleanest he’s been in… well 4 weeks! During that same weather system the ‘roof’ (tarpaulin structure) of the communal area caved in… oops; and many people were sleeping in pools of water where they had forgotten to close their tarpaulin blinds… double oops!

However, the weather could not dampen (pun intended) our spirits, as a new terrestrial project has been introduced – Turtling! To explain that a little more, Xcacel (or something like that), a local turtle camp invited the volunteers from GVI to participate in their turtle conservation project. This involved staying up throughout the course of the night and observing the turtles´ behaviour. Each nesting turtle was measured in size, and the tag number recorded, and the number of eggs laid counted. Amazingly each turtle produces on average 110 eggs in one nesting session.

These eggs were then moved from the nesting site to the base camp at Xcacel, where they were protected from predation, and incubated until hatching. Other volunteers were tasked with releasing the hatched baby turtles, unsurprisingly ALL the female volunteers wanted to do this for the cutsie factor, and having seen photographs I can see why… little jealous! My particular experience of turtling was the very same night the horrendous storm hit base… travelling to the camp was a little like scenes from Jurassic Park, as the roads were very muddy, and lighting flashed far too often for my liking… I was with 5 girls
, so I had to (pretend) to be brave – not my most favoured role! I was wet for a full 14 hours. We

started turtling in the rain at 9:15pm, and I returned to turtle base at 6:30am with no sleep and soaked to the bone. I didn’t care. At all. It was an incredible experience and I would do it again in exactly the same way in a heart beat.

The week got all the more exciting… as you will know, because you follow this blog religiously, we have recently lost 2 members of the voluntee team, however, this week we gained 2 new members of staff; Sonja and Joao, both from the GVI Costa Rica terrestrial project.
We offered them a very warm welcome to the family here.

So heading now into our last week, and to give you a sneak preview of what’s to come, we have a Lion Fish competition coming up on Saturday, which our finest marksmen and women will take part, competing against the esteemed fishermen of Punta Allen. They have asked us to give a presentation on the reef, so we decided we would put on a show! It´s been a frenzied week of putting together costumes, casting and script writing… who knows, there might even be an Oscar or two to dish out…

As its been a limited week for diving there is not much to report from the underwater world; several of the 5 weekers are now monitoring, weather permitting, which is helping the base hit the goal number of transects for this phase. Fingers crossed that we will get some more dives in before we leave…

Hasta luego Amigos,


Bex y Foxy