An update from the interns on Tovuto Base
Bula from the marine interns at Tovuto base!
We are nearly approaching our first month here and the time is going so fast.
Our first impressions of base were really positive. We were lucky enough to miss the five hour boat ride and by getting the much quicker sea plane instead. Although the weather was miserable we were met with a warm welcome by staff and the volunteers who were already here. Our base tour showed us the different aspects of base. Despite not having many of the creature comforts we have at home, such as constant electricity and flushing toilets, we have all settled into base nicely and it really does feel like home now.
The first week of our stay saw some of the new marines getting their Open Water Certifications while the rest of us refreshed our skills. Based on our time here we were assigned the different categories of our surveys- inverts, benthic and fish species. Straight away we started lectures and studying our different subjects. Since then we have participated in point out dives and benthic and invert surveys have been started.
The last few weeks have seen a few marines achieve their Advanced Open Water and a couple of us interns are about to finish our Rescue Diver Course. We have continued species point out dives, tests and hopefully, we will be starting fish surveys in the next few weeks.
As part of our intern program all of us have attended local schools to help educate children on marine conservation. We aim to keep the lessons informative and fun in the hopes that the children will take the lessons home with them to further educate local villages on the importance of maintaining a healthy marine environment. So far we have taught the children the importance of keeping plastic out of the sea and the different ways of reusing common plastic items found in the villages, we have also taught the children about major threats to the reefs such as overfishing and the depletion of mangroves.
Here are few of our highlights from the last couple of weeks……..
To mark the end of the school term the education team and the rest of base hosted a party for the teachers from Ratu Meli Memorial School where the education project is held. The education team spent the day preparing a cooking for the party while some the marines and construction helped out when they could. The party marked many of us participating in our first formal kava ceremony while being here. The food we got to eat was delicious and the teachers all seemed to have a great time.
As a marine Friday marks our Friday Fun Dives were we can explore the reefs we usually visit in our time, taking pictures and enjoying the reef. After the teacher party we decided to wear our best traditional Fiji attire- sulus and Bula shirts- while on our dive. As soon as we entered the water, everyone participated in photo shoots and danced underwater.
While many of our dives have seen us spot some exciting animals underwater a few of our highlights have been reef sharks, turtles, nudibranches and rays. However, a major highlight for many marines was a trip to the dive site “Cathedral’. The dive sit is so exciting because it is the same site that local resorts use as shark feeding sites so sharks tend to frequent the area hoping for food. While we warned there may be no sharks down there, the moment we entered the water sharks were spotted. The dive went down to 30m were we floated watching the sharks come in and circle around us. The sharks that were spotted were three Lemon Sharks, eight Bull Sharks, a Nurse Shark and a couple of Black and White Tipped Reef Sharks.
Over the Easter break we did not have project so a few of us left base to explore the surrounding island resorts in the Yasawas. A few of us went to Barefoot Island, a resort located a couple of hours away from base. The resort is beautiful, it’s a narrow island that takes about three minutes across surrounded by coral reefs and when the season is right- manta rays. Over the weekend we were treated to luxuries that we don’t have all the time on base such as buffet meals, not having to wash our dishes and cocktails! We spent the weekend relaxing and exploring the island. A few people kayaked around half the island, snorkelled and for a lucky two- snorkelling with a manta ray. Due to the Easter holiday we were treated to a traditional lovo and an Easter egg hunt.
Belle, Inca and Zara – Marine Interns, Yasawas
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