ARO Blog: Jenn Freer

It’s been almost two weeks since I arrived on Mafia Island and already I’m feeling quite at home. Here are my favourite things about the marine research project so far:

1. Back to basics
The way of living here is basic, but it isn’t difficult – just completely different to the UK. Each morning we collect water from the village and each night we make bread on the open fire. Living on camp gives a true cultural experience to the project and I think that is so important to its success.

2. Being part of conservation efforts
Frontier’s legacy on Mafia Island is impressive - helping to set up the Mafia Island Marine Park in 1994 and continuing to investigate the impact it is having on the island, both biologically and ecologically. Already I have helped teach identification techniques and survey methods to the Research Assistants, sort through science materials and get equipment prepped for our first survey dive. I can’t wait to start collecting data and maybe even set up new projects that will assist the marine park further.

3. Mango juice in the village
As well as the rewarding teaching and science, there are little treats in the village that make our days that little bit sweeter. Fresh, ice cold mango juice is just soo good! Our boat driver also has tasty donuts and samosas for a post-dive snack – perfect!

4. Learning Swahili
I love languages and so learning Swahili is a real bonus for me. We have Swahili classes every few days and get plenty of practice with all the visitors to camp and trips to the village. A friendly “mambo!” never goes un-noticed.

By Jen Freer, Marine ARO

Find out more about the Tanzania Marine Conservation and Diving project.


Volunteer Blog: Shontay

On our most recent dive to Coral Gardens we were trying our hand at identifying some of the invertabrate species we had been learning about.  After staring at what I believed was a clam for several minutes, I had one of those brain re-arranging moments where I was able to see the picture behind the pattern . Can you see what animal is actually in this picture?

How about now?

Scorpionfish, named for the venom in their fin tips, are excellent when it comes to camouflauging into their surroundings. They use their skin flaps and tassles (which can be seen around the mouth) to help them change colors to match the rocks or corals that are sitting on, under, or next to.  During the day they sit motionless  on the sea floor waiting for lunch to come to them. Lucky for us no one put their hand down on this “rock”.

By Shontay, volunteer

Find out more about the Tanzania Marine Conservation and Diving project.

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