Entries in #wildlife (18)

Tuesday
Mar212017

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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Monday
Jan092017

New Challenges In Tanzania

I had just qualified as a diving instructor in Mexico before coming to Tanzania and the course teaches you all sorts of things about being a professional scuba diver but nothing can prepare you for the extra pressure that comes with it.

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Monday
Oct242016

What I Don’t Have

Our Wildlife Conservation Intern Paige sums up the modern conveniences that she doesn't have whilst living on camp but how these are massively outweighed by all of her amazing experiences

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Monday
Feb292016

Turtle Hatching On Juani Island

Juani Island is the biggest Island next to Mafia Island. It's was quite the adventure getting,  taking a boat which took about 45min from Utende. We landed on the west-side of the Island which still faces the the bay so we had to march on foot to the other side of Juani to get to the side which faces the Indian Ocean.

After half an hour of trekking through the dense forest of Juani Island, we reached the beach and the side where the turtles hatched. During our first experience of hatching turtles we saw the shortcut species of Hawksbill turtles. After a short introduction about the turtle population on Mafia-Island, our tour guide and his colleagues started to dig the hatched turtles out of the nest. After orientating they started crawling down the beach which definitely took its time because Hawksbill turtles are rather weak and slow when they hatch.

After about 20 minutes the first ones finally reached the water. Although there was very little swell (if any at all), it was pretty hard for them to reach deeper water because they often got thrown back on the beach by the smallest of ripples. After reaching a depth of half a metre they were able to swim into the ocean. Now we were able to take pictures of them and swim around them. On this day we might have seen around 10 turtles which managed to get into the ocean. Unfortunately the guides dug around 10 more dead eggs out of the nest which did not survive.

On our second trip to Juani Island we landed on a different spot which was quicker to reach with our boat. After a longer walk over Juani we came to a different beach on the east-side were the guides located a nest, this time Green turtles! These were way stronger and quicker than the Hawksbills and this made watching them more interesting as they sped towards the beach. Even though the distance to the ocean might have been the same, the Green turtle hatchlings reached the water in less than 5 minutes.

At first we were afraid that the strong waves hitting the beach might be a big problem for the turtles. Fortunately it wasn’t. The turtles were strong and fast enough to reach deeper water in seconds. Moreover they were really strong and fast swimmers which made it hard to follow them without fins. In about 20 minutes we’ve seen around 30-40 green turtles running down the beach and reaching the sea. All in all it was very interesting to see the difference between the two species. Both trips were very cool but personally I definitely preferred the second one with the Green turtles over the Hawksbills because it was quite fun to watch these tiny little Green turtles running over the beach.

By Vincent Struppler - Research Assistant

Photo's by Von Sebastian - Assistant Research Officer

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

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Tuesday
Feb092016

Goat More Meat? 

I never expected to bring in my 24th birthday on a tropical Island, but yet here I found myself trying to work out how best to celebrate another year survived! The answer which seems obvious now was a beach barbecue. So after a morning trip to Killondoni, the biggest city on the island, to collect essential supplies like a block of ice that just about fits under our feet into the tuk tuk home, myself and the dive officer (Luke Reynolds) embarked on an adventure to Chole island with one objective: to find a goat.

Upon our arrival on the island by ferry from the beach near camp, we were met by our friend Michael who runs a local gift shop and who took us to our first goat farmer. Whilst her goat was fat it was also very small so after some negotiation we realised this wasn’t going to work and went on to find another farmer. This turned into more of an ordeal than initially planned involving several people. We spotted some goats so walked to a workplace nearby then finally to the nearest house in an attempt to find the farmer himself. His goat was perfect and was appropriately sized to feed all 8 of us so a price was agreed for the whole goat 70,000 TSH (£20). We then walked our new purchase to the butcher who had it prepared for us and we were ready to catch the next ferry home in all of about 15 minutes.

After arriving home, the meat was given a quick clean and then put in containers to marinade in piri-piri rub bought from home, all of this including charcoal, a football and speakers were piled into a tuk tuk and driven to a beach near a lodge managed by a friend under an increasingly gloomy looking sky.


After kicking a ball around for 15 minutes we decided given how much meat we had it was cooking time, a pit was dug filled with charcoal and a fire started. Shortly after this the heavens opened we decided to give it fifteen minutes and see if it would blow over. This plan was abandoned after five minutes as all the rain was so heavy it was difficult to see, and we beat a hasty retreat to the nearby lodge (declining the offer of sheltering with the fishermen). Another fire was made under shelter this time and the entire goat was cooked over the course of six hours, by the end there was still a little bit of goat left which no-one could finish! All in all, a birthday to remember and an experience I definitely wouldn’t have had without being on Mafia Island in Tanzania.

By Tom Bruce - Terrestrial Research Officer

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Monday
Jan252016

An Insight Into The Future

My time on Mafia Island has been different but eye opening. Not many people are given the opportunity to travel to the middle of nowhere with no electricity or sit down toilets to participate in important marine conservation on beautiful coral reefs.

I learnt about it during a college assembly informing students of various activities to take part in during a gap year. I heard the words ‘marine conservation’ and leapt into action, soon getting a temporary job in order to acquire the appropriate funds for my upcoming travels.

When I arrived, I was greeted with heat and humidity like I’ve never experienced before (it would take me a while to get used to it!) and the smiling faces of the team I would be spending the next 6 weeks with. As a budding marine biologist, I was ever eager to get into the water as quickly and frequently as possible, but before any of that, I had to learn how to SCUBA dive! Taking my first breaths underwater was odd, but strangely refreshing. Being completely enveloped by water from all angles but still being capable of breathing certainly unsettled me, but I quickly calmed down and reminded myself that this was my dream and it was slowly coming true! The confined dives went smoothly and time passed quickly, before I knew it, it was time for the open water dives!

The dive sites that were chosen were Coral Garden and Milimani South. We arrived on site, anchored, plunged in and descended to 12 metres. We landed on the bottom and I took a moment to look around and take in my surroundings. I was hit with a myriad of colours and structures that I had only seen from T.V. I was awestruck: fish of all shapes, sizes, and colours surrounded me and swam everywhere around me. We began to swim and explore the jungle of coral and all it had to offer and just as quickly as we started, we were finishing the dive and returning to the surface to head back to solid land. Three dives later I qualified as an Open Water Diver, and moved onto Advanced Open Water training which involved five specialty dives. The dives I chose to do were: Deep Dive, Navigation, Peak Performance Buoyancy, Fish Identification and Boat Diving. Of all of these, deep diving was my favourite. We descended to 26 metres and immediately felt a strong current, turning our deep dive into a drift dive. We calmly drifted along the bottom and were lucky enough to see a massive 2.5 metre long Honeycomb Moray Eel, appearing out of the darkness, unfazed by the group of humans watching it. After getting a few shots, the moray eel swam off and left us in a state of amazement. After this deep drift dive, I completed my Advanced Open Water. It was now time for science and to learn more about the coral reef ecosystem and how to conduct the Frontier marine research surveys.

After some very interesting marine lectures about the fish, coral reefs and benthic invertebrates of the local area, I got stuck into assisting with the surveys, which included swimming along 100 m of a laid out tap measure and recording what we saw within 3 transects which were 20 metres long each (0-20 m, 30-50 m and 60-80 m). I was assigned the task of recording “Territorial Fish” which includes Sweetlips, Groupers, Triggerfish, Spinecheeks, Rays, Angelfish, Butterflyfish and Damselfish. Each site we surveyed had a variety of fish life, which made each dive unique and have a sense of wonder surrounding it. I know that for me this is just the tip of the iceberg and that there is so much more in store for me in the marine science world. Although it saddens me to leave this beautiful landscape of Mafia Island and its surrounding coral reefs behind, my stay here has given me a taste of the future and a new appetite that needs to be satiated – an appetite for adventure and exploration!

By Ben Mason - Research Assistant (Marine)

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

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