Published: May 15th 2012May 15th 2012
I missed blogging yesterday, but I was so busy I came home and collapsed after the talk on Manta Rays at Casa Barry last night. Andrea Marshall is so charismatic…her passion for the conservation of the Manta Rays is infectious. I am seriously considering doing a trip with her in March, a 3 week dive/research trip to Raj Impat and Indonesia. I want to help support this effort to the best of my ability.
Yesterday we did an ocean safari, no whale sharks or manta rays. Andrea arrived here 10 years ago to do her graduate work, and 10 years later there are 87% FEWER MANTA RAYS. I’ve been here a week and I’ve seen only one manta, and no whale sharks. The reason for this is obvious: today, on the way to Outback reef for a dive, we saw a fishing boat pulling up sharks and rays in a NET. It is not illegal, these animals are being fished for their fins so quickly they cannot sustain themselves. After our dive (where I saw a mobula ray!) we saw them dragging sharks to the market from the beach, so we followed, and everyone is standing around watching guys cut
them up. The rays were babies. These people are so poor, the life expectancy is so low here, that they just cannot understand that they can make more money over the long haul by keeping these animals safe. For them, it is about RIGHT NOW. Eating right now, making enough money to last for a month for fins, they do not comprehend that the reason the tourists are here are the animals they are killing
. It is so sad, so demoralizing. We all walked away in disgust, anger, and deep sorrow. Here are photos.
I have started doing fish surveys and research dive logs, and today I am learning to search the whale shark database and mark the shark ids. They use the NASA system for charting stars to chart the spot pattern on the sharks. I’ve also contributed turtle id shots. The dives the last two days have been much better…Mozambique is not easy diving. It isn’t easy, period. The walking is very difficult, up and down hills to get anywhere, but I am managing. Today there were a few older divers…it was nice not to be the oldest one in sight! I have to admit that it
is a mixed blessing…I do feel stronger every day, but I also feel worn out and in pain a bit. I am pacing myself.
I am comfortable here, this is not luxury, but it is fine. Compared to the people of Mozambique I am living like a Queen in this volunteer house. I feel like I have known this group forever….the bonding took place so quickly when living in the same house. My admiration for these people grows daily. My 22 year old roommate, Leslie, is from Switzerland, and has done volunteer work all over the world, including Antarctica! After 2 months here, she is off to Simon’s Town (right outside of Cape Town, South Africa) to work on the Great White Shark project. A small Great White was seen here day before yesterday…it was speared by local fisherman, of course, so it is probably frozen in steak sizes by now, its fins on their way to China. These animals are going to be gone in 10 years if something is not done soon.
I confess I am feeling sad today to miss my daughter’s 25th
birthday, but I think it was more important that I was there
the day I gave birth! Happy, happy birthday, sweet and darling girl, I love you so much! I wish you could be here and meet these amazing people! What a way to travel the world! They really are an inspiration.
I'm exhausted already....an ocean safari, dive and manta ray talk yesterday; today an early morning dive, computer work, and two talks. Oh, and laundry. I'll be back tomorrow!
There are more photos below