Thursday
Aug212014

we are nothing if not innovative

The Marine team attempting to make some plankton light traps out of a plastic bottle, some mesh and a glow stick!

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Madagascar.

Thursday
Aug212014

First transect marker

Deploying our first permanent transect marker in Madagascar - so far so good! 

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Madagascar.

Thursday
Aug212014

It is that time of the week again

...STEAK NIGHT!

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Thursday
Aug212014

Frontier Madagascar never stands still!

Here we have a new door for our reforestation nursery, our new wooden case and the awesome new shelving unit. Go team!

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Madagascar.

Thursday
Aug212014

Diving in Nosy Komba

Awesome volunteer team Alice and Greg just hanging out waiting to go for another dive around the stunning Nosy Komba (background) 

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Madagascar.

Thursday
Aug212014

Check out the little footballer damsel hiding in the midst!

Seagrass - a very understudied area around Nosy Be, and a very important nursery for juvenile marine species. 

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Madagascar.

Thursday
Aug212014

Greg on an Opisthobranch Survey

VOW and general hero Greg (Australian of course) is hanging out enjoying the beautiful blue while on an Opisthobranch Survey!

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Madagascar.

 

Thursday
Aug212014

Night dive briefing

Night dives here are amazing with awesome species seen only at this time and not during the day. Briefings for these dives are essential and taken very seriously by our experienced diving team.

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Madagascar.

Thursday
Aug212014

The DOE Eyes Nursery 

Our new reforestation nursery has been named courtesy of RA Ellie in honour of its original founder Ben 'Doe Eyes' Pickup

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Madagascar.

Thursday
Aug212014

Monday night is omelette night!

 

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Thursday
Aug212014

Happy birthday alice!

Yesterday was our Marine Research Assistant Alice's birthday. What better way to celebrate this than your own birthday message on our beach board?

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Madagascar.

Thursday
Aug212014

Animal of the Week: the intrepid Langaha

An absolute beauty and one of the major highlights of any terrestrial researcher's time on the island.

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Madagascar.


Thursday
Aug212014

Nudibranchs presentation

Ellie Griffiths-Phillips recently completed her CoPE qualification and as a part of that needed to give a presentation on a new topic she has learnt about. Here she is, enthralling the audience, on her knowledge of nudibranchs. Strong work!

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Madagascar.

Thursday
Aug212014

Strong work Bryan Bravo

Another month, another BTEC qualification gained. 

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Madagascar.

Wednesday
Aug202014

The Day in the Life of a Frontier Crab

Image courtesy of Yogendra Joshi

(Que: creepy French accent) ….It was a sunny Saturday morning, the stagnant stench of the long drop loomed forever in the air, as I watched the puffy eyed campers making their way to the temple of doom. The day ahead had the same promise of averageness as everyday did in my burrow beneath the sand. However, this perspective was later changed.

It was after my mid morning snack my attention was drawn to a newbie camper innocently helping herself to a laundry bidan. The opportunities that arose in my mind were endless. When the washing had been hung on the line overhanging my hideout, I waited for the opportune moment to strike.

I'd been watching the washing for what seemed like hours...with my eye on one particular item. My luck finally came when the wind untangled said item from the line and sent them floating lazily towards my direction. They landed but a few steps in front of my burrow. The coast was clear, I scurried to them and brought them back to my burrow... the lacy underwear was all mine, mwahaha. I caressed my new found treasure into the long hours of the afternoon.

While thoughts and fantasies of what I could do with my new possession played repeatedly in my head, my luck seemed to take a turn for the worst... I spotted an eye looming towards my borrow with a hand swiftly following. The delicate hand reached deep into my lair, snatching my dreams away. My life seemed to have been turned upside-down, now all there was left to do was to sit and bide my time until my next opportunity...

(NB. This story was based on real life events)  

By Louise Dixon, Research Assistant Volunteer

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Madagascar.

Wednesday
Aug202014

Staff blog: The elusive Langaha

I have always had a fascination with reptiles, and snakes in particular. The unique reptile fauna was one of the many reasons I initially chose to come and work for Frontier in Madagascar. And indeed, when I first arrived here, I was not disappointed. I joined at the very end of the wet season, and snakes abounded everywhere!

One of the most captivating species that are present here on Nosy Be is the Madagascan leaf-nosed snake; Langaha madagascariensis. This species is predominantly arboreal, spending most of its time up in the trees. Many snake species around the world that have adapted to this lifestyle are extremely long and thin (which serves as good camouflage as well as making it easier to traverse through branches) and are often referred to as vine snakes. Langahas exhibit this morphology, but go one better with their exquisite rostral appendage (an extra bit of flesh stuck on the end of their nose). They are also one of the few snakes that with a clear sexual dimorphism. The females are a predominantly brown colour, but with a flat, leaf shaped rostral appendage, while males have a beautiful yellow colouration on their belly, and a pointed rostral appendage. These snakes are incredibly cryptic both in their appearance and behaviour, on the whole doing an extremely good job of mimicking a vine. They even sleep vertically to make this mimicry complete at night. These animals are one of the more venomous species of snakes you will find in Madagascar; that is to say, not very. They are very reluctant to bite humans even when handled, and if they do, it results in only short term pain and localised swelling.

Soon after my arrival the value of this species, in my eyes, soon rocketed due to its perceived rarity, like some precious jewel. On every survey, I looked to find one of these individuals. Every vine in every tree became a Langaha. The potential of finding one became a driving force that kept me going. I even had recurring dreams of finding one dangling from the trees. As we came more into the dry season, and the numbers of snakes that we sighted in the area slowly dropped, I had nearly given up hope. More worrying was the information from the chief of the nearby village of Ampasipohy when we showed him a picture of a Langaha; that many local people were afraid of these snakes and killed them on sight. I sadly wondered whether this might be one of the reasons for their rarity. Apparently, however, the forest was abundant with Langahas last year in the wet season, even turning up in the long drops on camp. I consoled myself with the fact that at least I might be able to find one of these beauties in a few months time. Perhaps they hibernate during the dry season? Many of the snakes here do, although I could find nothing in the literature that expressly gave this fact.

Suddenly, last week as I was sat on camp in the evening, one of the forest staff members, Tim, rushed into camp, shouting my name. He had been out on a reptile nightwalk in site 5; a fairly disturbed fragment of secondary forest. I immediately feared something terrible had happened to one of the volunteers on the walk, and I was filled with a sense of dread. I ran over and asked what was the matter. He looked at me and smiled, saying “You’re gonna want to get your camera, mate. Langaha.” I was slightly dumbstruck at first, thinking that maybe this was a joke.

In fact, by sheer coincidence, Lou, forest ARO, had also been on the night walk, meaning that Tim was able to come back to camp and inform everyone of this marvellous stroke of luck, while she remained to keep an eye on the animal and prevent it from slithering back into the ethereal darkness.  Absolute heroes. Upon hearing this news, the mariners gave a quizzical look, a shrug of the shoulders, and continued playing cards. All of the foresters, however, went into a mad frenzy; grabbing bags, boots and cameras as quickly as possible before setting out to experience this marvel of nature that we had all heard about and yearned for, and which had achieved an almost mythical status. When we got there, we found Lou and Dale, waiting patiently. “Sorry. It’s gone,” was all she said. Our hearts sank. “Only joking. It’s right here!” She then quipped. Well played, young lady, well played.

We all marvelled at this elusive beauty; a male, a little over half a metre long, entwined around a small branch overlooking the path just above head height; seemingly completely oblivious to all the excitement going on underneath him. Every one of us was elated. A photographic frenzy ensued. I couldn’t quite believe it. This was what I had spent the last 5 months hoping to see, yet it didn’t quite seem real. It felt almost bittersweet; this is what had been driving me through the forest for such a long time. What now? Well, on reflection, I hardly imagine it won’t be equally as exciting to see another in the coming weeks or months! And besides, I still haven’t seen a female yet.

The potential of catching sight of rare or elusive creatures like these in the wild is what I love about working in this field. Having to work hard and be patient in order to receive your reward makes it all the sweeter. That’s certainly a good proxy for life in Madagascar as a whole, and right now I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.

By Richard Burger, Principal Investigator 

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Madagascar.

Monday
Aug182014

Madagascar Epic Beach Clean

On marches the Frontier Madagascar team conducting another epic beach clean!


Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Madagascar.

Monday
Aug182014

Bye guys...I'll just wait here! 

Dive officer Gin Flemming and a new mariner George trot off for a lovely dive with Nosy Komba in the background.

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Madagascar.

Monday
Aug182014

New nudibranch of the day

Bornella anguilla! He even swims!

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Madagascar.

Monday
Aug182014

Lovely message from departing Adventurer volunteer Ellie:

I've had the time of my life in nosy be, Madagascar, seen and done incredible things and met amazing people but now its time to go home so a last goodbye to what has been my second home and to all the awesome people that made this trip even more enjoyable !

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Madagascar.

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