Name: Tali Nachoom
Where are you from? England, Germany and Israel
Position: Marine Assistant Research Officer
Duration: Three months out of six
Interesting fact about yourself?
I’m a recently qualified Commercial Diver. I love being underwater so much I’m on my way to make it my full time job.
What were you doing before you came to Madagascar? What was your job/occupation?
I was studying for my BSc (Marine Vertebrate Zoology) and MSc (Environmental Conservation), funding my life through waitressing and bar work.
Why did you choose Madagascar?
I chose Madagascar as it is every conservationists dream to visit this beautiful African island. The sheer amount of unique endemic species is enough to make anyone melt in awe. The fact that I had never been to the southern hemisphere before now was another driving force for my choice!
Why are you here? What is your aim? What are you hoping to achieve?
I am here to gain further experience needed to become a marine biologist. My aim is to learn more about the underwater world, research techniques, and teach others about the beauty that is the ocean. I hope to inspire other like minded people to choose marine biology as a career path.
Your favourite moment here/most memorable moment? Best memory? Best story/day?
My most memorable moment so far here in Madagascar has to be our overnight trip to Nosy Iranja. On our boat ride to the island we spotted three young whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), and got to swim alongside them. This was the first time I had seen, and swum with these beautiful gentle giants, a memory I will cherish forever. Soon after swimming with the sharks we spotted the rare and elusive Omura’s whale (Balaenoptera omurai), yet another first for me (having never seen a whale before!). After watching the whale for some time we took off for our end destination: Iranja.
As soon as we docked at the shore it was evident that this was no ordinary island, this was heaven on earth. When you think of beautiful tropical islands, Nosy Iranja is what you imagine. White sandy beaches scattered with palm trees, and best of all our accommodation. Little wooden huts of which two people couple share, consisting of a super comfy bed and a view not even the tallest sky scraper can compete with. After eating lunch (more like a royal feast) which consisted of zebu brochettes, two types of calamari, fish, and curries galore, we were able to spend a couple of hours enjoying the beach and exploring the island a little. After yet another feast that was dinner our guide said she had a surprise for us. What could be in store for us? We got on the boat again and sailed to the smaller island of Nosy Iranja, where a nest of hatching green turtles (Chelonia mydas) was awaiting us. Yet ANOTHER first and inspiring experience for me. After watching the 77 freshly hatched turtles make their toughest journey to the water, and into the big blue we went on to watch the sunset accompanied with rum. As the sun had almost disappeared under the horizon, we witnessed the legendary green flash (something I thought was mere fiction, the stuff of pirates of the Caribbean!).
After awaking from a good night’s sleep under the starry night sky, we hiked up to the top of the island and took in the stunning view. After this our 24 hour of bliss were sadly over. On to the boat we hopped, and back to Nosy Be we ventured. But wait! It’s not over yet! On our way back we spotted a pod of 300(!) spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) and were able to jump in and swim with these beautiful and wild species. Hearing them echolocate and communicate with clicks and whistles lead to me being covered with goosebumps.
Our surreal trip to Iranja will forever be engraved in my mind, I have never once been so happy, and so filled with adrenalin. 24 hours of not being able to wipe the smile of my face. This is Madagascar.
Any scary/crazy experiences? What got your heart racing?
Being head on head with a massive tree boa!
If you could have three things from home, what would they be? What do you miss?
Bacon, bacon, and bacon. No... Maybe bacon, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and a packet of Thai sweet chilli crisps. ALL OF THE FOOD.
If you could take 3 things from Madagascar back home with you, what would they be?
A lemur, a panther chameleon, and a stray cat. I know, I know, conservationists’ shouldn’t be wanting such things... but they’re just so cute!!!
Best wildlife experience?
Swimming with whale sharks, dolphins, and whales!
What will you take away with you? What have you learnt?
That a simple life is all you need. That life without home comforts such as electricity, warm water, and a comfy bed isn’t what it’s all about. I’m living the dream here, the lack of luxuries are compensated by the beauty and wildness of this wonderful Island.
Describe your time here in one word (got to have a bit of cheese)
By Amy Wright – Madagascar Field Communications Officer
Find out more about Frontier Madagascar Projects.
Check out what volunteers in Madagascar are up to right now!