This week has been epic! It has involved swimming with sharks, boat rides, teaching beer pong to Chinese fishermen, saving sea turtles, learning how to give liquids to turtles, swimming in the bay, and teaching high schoolers about sea turtles.
The best part since the last time I wrote has been swimming with whale sharks!! They are awesome and huge!! We actually swam with juveniles, but they were still pretty big. One of the fishermen we've met allowed us to visit the sharks he takes care of. He is a really funny guy who likes to impersonate us with loud gasps of astonishment while repeating "OH MY GOD!!" I guess we are always pretty impressed by stuff when he is around. We watched the shark eat, and noticed another species of shark in the enclosure, we asked what kind it was, he just ignored us and said something about it being friendly.. I wasn't exactly sure what that meant.. so I was a little uneasy at first. I jumped in with the rest of the interns and we just treaded water while these sharks swam around and beneath us! We had a "spotter" which would just shout where the shark was so we could either: 1. get out of its way or 2. get prepared to touch it. They felt so cool! We swam for awhile with them and no one really enjoyed when I started my "what if" comments that centered around being actually stuck treading water. I thought I was being so careful when climbing out of the enclosure, but my entire right leg is covered in scratches from barnacles and whatever else was on the net I climbed out on. Last night while taking a shower, I noticed that between my toes kind of hurt.. When I looked I saw that it looked as if something was attached to me. Immediantly, I thought I was infected with hookworm. I have no clue what hookworm looks like but in my constant vigilance against it, I immediantly jump to any foot issues as being hookworm. Luckily, I was wrong, I just have cuts and scratches from where my long toes grabbed on to the net.. Basically though, it was completely worth it. I can't wait to go back and do it again!
The boat ride out there was pretty epic too. We plowed through a bunch of waves to get further out into the ocean. At one point, Chawnga (the fisherman with the whale sharks..note.. Chawnga is how it sounds, not spelled) asked if we could swim. Personally, I thought it was a little too late considering we were already pretty far out. On the way back, we hit a sand bar, and some people had to get out to push us out of it. It's amazing that around the corner of Monkey Islet, there is beautiful looking beaches, while where we are is pretty much littered with trash.
The night before we went to visit the whale sharks, we first had to get on Chawnga's good side. It is important for us to establish a good relationship with him, and Chawnga and his friends really like to drink.. so we went over, and taught them how to play beer pong. It was so much fun, they loved it!! We ended up staying until about 2:30 in the morning, but it was a lot fun, and because of it, Chawnga let us visit his sharks!
We have been pretty busy working with 5 turtles we saved from a fisherman who had no use for them because they were in too poor of condition. During the night, we were called to visit him at the floating village, and after being there for about a half hour, he let us take 6 of his turtles. The turtles were all either in dry buckets, or just floating in their enclosures. Our hospital turned into something that I imagined to be like a crazy army hosptital. We didn't have enough room for all these turtles, and even if we had more net enclosures, they were not strong enough to swim. We administered fluids, and cleaned them, and hoped they would make it through the night. Five made it, but one didn't. They are all still in really bad shape, there is some slow progress, but they still aren't strong enough to eat on their own. With all these turtles, I have had the chance to learn how to give them fluids! We are constantly watching them making sure they are breathing. During the first day, we would give them little massages to encourage them to pick their heads up to breathe. Now, they are floating on lifejackets in enough water that reaches their chins, and they have wet towels on their backs to keep them wet. It's a sad sight to see sea turtles who are not strong enough to even pick their heads out of the water, but hopefully, they will recover
It's been pretty hot here of course, so we finally swam in the bay. If you swim in the morning, the water is relatively clean (there is not as much visible trash floating.. but who really knows what's in the water). It was so refreshing! I was slightly grossed out, but the hotter it is the easiest it is to forget about.
I think I'll be actually starting my project soon, which I'm excited about.. I'm still a little unclear of the actual details, but it involves ecotourism and bringing people to visit our hospital along with increase tourism to the hotels that we are partnered with..
On a side note, our normal taxi boat drivers like us. We typically are picked up by this younger guy. One day, we all were waiting for a familiar face and we here this "OHHH" from across the pick up area, and we see the younger guy waving and speeding his boat to pick us up before the others could. I'm sure everyone is familiar with the concept of bumper cars, so the best way to describe these boats is to describe them as bumper boats. The taxis are covered in old tires and when they need to get somewhere there is no shame in knocking your way through. The younger guy pushed like 2 boats out of the way in his quest to get to us. It made for a great morning, because it was the first time that a non-seaturtles 911 person has really seemed to like us!! ya!!!!
That's what's been going on in my neck of the jungle!