Entries in #animals (5)


Whale  Sharks

Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), are the largest fish in the sea. They can grow up to a length of 20m and are thought to live up to 100 years. They feed mainly on zooplankton and tiny fish that they filters out the water.

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A Typical Day On  Camp

In keeping with the African life style, everything on camp is polepole (slow and steady!).

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Nudibranch BTEC Study 

Nudibranchs are a very intriguing species that a lot of volunteers fall in love with whilst diving on our projects. Find out from volunteer Ashlynn White what they are and whats makes them so special...

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Fish Are Friends Not Food

When you see fish do you think food? Here we delve into fish farming techniques and discover which ones are best to avoid if we want to protect our oceans and fish stocks

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My First Night Dive

Having just arrived back to camp after a long day of conducting underwater surveys, instinctively I started to pack away my scuba gear, in anticipation of putting my feet up and chilling in the hammock. But that plan for the evening quickly changed when I looked up to see the rest of the marine team gearing up for another dive. Tonight was a night dive!

I was buzzing about this dive, waiting weeks on the correct tidal conditions and finally it was time. After a quick trip into the village to refuel on chipsi mayai (the local snack of chips in an omelette), we geared up and made the short trek back down to the beach. Even this walk, which is usually not very enjoyable with a tank on your back, was transformed by the bright pink sky as the sun had just dipped below the palm trees behind us. We quickly recapped all the safety rules of a night dive and slowly waded into the bath-like waters of the Indian Ocean. Everything felt different. Not being able to even see my own hand without the torch was slightly unnerving at first, but I quickly got used to it. Usually I’m fixated on all the different fish swimming around me but this time there were none, except the odd sparkle of reflected torch light from a distant fish.

Instead my attention was drawn elsewhere as I looked down onto the seabed which was inhabited by loads of small and strange creatures and crustaceans I had never seen before. I remember spending almost 5 minutes staring at a small piece of coral with sleeping baby box fish, awesomely bizarre nudibranchs, and little cleaner shrimps staring back at me. Then suddenly, whilst completely absorbed in this little scene, a huge shadow was cast over my torch beam, causing me to panic and fling my torch around to see what it was. About a metre from my face loomed some kind of shark. Ok, later I found out that it was actually a Cobia which is a very big fish that looks very similar to a shark, but still, at the time I thought it was a shark! It swam around for 10 seconds, giving me enough time to get the attention of the others, before it disappeared into the darkness. I was so stoked to have seen what I thought to be shark!

As we continued on through the dark, I had a huge grin underneath my regulator. The next 45 minutes was filled with the best diving experience of my life. As well as that awesome Cobia, we saw multiple blue-spotted stingrays, a Conger eel, a baby lobster, cute little sleeping box fish, many brightly coloured Nudibranchs, tube anemones and so many other small and beautifully strange creatures. Also the coral seemed ten times brighter, due to the torch light, adding to the beauty of the dive.

Almost an hour in, I was getting low on air, dreading the moment my SPG hit 70 bar meaning the end of the dive. I signalled to the others that I was getting close to this, received the OK signal, and then got a weird signal I had never seen before. I was being asked to block my torchlight with my hand! I was pre-warned about this but had slightly been hoping that Chris, the Principal Investigator, had forgotten about it. A couple of moments later there was nothing but pitch black. Sitting on the sandy seabed in utter darkness, we started to wave our arms about which illuminates all the phosphorescent plankton in the water around us, creating a beautifully glowing, avatar-like world.

I just sat there, absorbing the scene, hoping never to forget that moment. After what felt like hours, the torch light returned and we slowly made our way up to the surface to end the most magical experience. Brimming with excitement and raving about everything we saw, we made our way up the beach to meet the rest of Frontier camp chilling around a beach fire.

The rest of the evening was spent lying on the sandy beach next to the fire, under the starry African night sky, listening to Sam’s (another volunteer) beautiful singing and reminiscing about a busy day of wonderful diving. I will definitely never forget the highlight of my time on Mafia - My first ever night dive.    
By Oliver Trotter - Research Assistant

All photographs by Chris Roberts

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