Things here in the Philippines are going really well over the past two and a half weeks, but it all has been properly hectic!! During the past two and a half weeks, I have learnt to scuba dive from scratch and passed my Open Water and Advance scuba diving courses. Whoo Hoo!! And all the new starts here (which include me) have also had to undergo the infamous "Science Week" where in the space of just a week we have all had to learn as well as be examined on; hard coral, invertebrates, algae and fish with both theoretical and practical exams so that we can be verified to conduct the surveys on different sites. It has been a real challenge and I have to say, I have learnt more in this "Science Week" than in the first week of my Ph.D!! But it really has been a lot of fun and we have learnt so much and all of our understanding of the coral reef and the amazing creatures that live in this environment has helped us loads understand what we see when we are diving and how to help!! All of the theoretical exams have been done and passed so we just have a few more surveying exams and we should all be ready to go to do our first survey at some point this week. So if you start to read about me talking about, Damselfish, Needlefish, Groupers, Snappers, Butterfly fish, Angelfish, Wrasse, Surgeonfish, Emperors, Spine cheeks, Cardinal fish, Fusiliers, Gobies, Blennies, Nudibranch, Zoanthids, Pulsing coral, Tydemania, Dictyota, Chaetomorpha, Caulerpa, Favia, Diploastrea heliopora, Favia, Pocillopora, Seriatopora hysterix, Echinopora, Pavona clavus, Galaxea, Acropora and a whole bunch of other stuff, don't worry, I am still writing in English, but I'll be talking about all the cool stuff that I have seen diving. Weather here is pretty good
but it is getting a bit cooler....26-27 degC.... but it does rain in the oddest of times. Last week we had a mini typhoon and our building got hit by lightning!!! But everyone was ok!!
The people here are fantastic from all over the world, France, Denmark, America, UK, Ireland, Sweden, Germany, South Africa etc.... and they all are so helpful when it comes to everything including the vegetarian food!! I have had no problems and they are even making dishes without eggs just for me!!
As the location is very remote and as it is a conservation site, the accommodation here is pretty simple, no running water but there is a well outside in the forest where we shower. I know, it is pretty hard to imagine but I have to say, I am getting used to it, especially
when the sun is setting on the beach, but the mosquitoes do come out pretty quick after sunset....
Some of the highlights so far have been:
- My fist dive!! This was truly amazing!! It was like entering another world full of vibrant life and colour!! And also breathing underwater!! That is pretty cool!!
- Going for a night dive!! This was Awesome!! The reef just looks so different at night and the nocturnal creatures come out so you see things that you would not normally see during the day.
- Seeing a stingray and a turtle!!
- Seeing a sea snake (it was right next to me during one dive and I have to say, I was just a little scared… but it was all good!!)
- Getting sort of attacked (ok I am exaggerating just a bit here….) by a very small, but very territorial Damselfish, during scuba training. As they have no teeth, it just felt like a ball bearing hitting my shin. Needless to say, we moved to a different position for the training so that we would not disturb the fish, but both the fish and myself, were fine, so no need to worry but I was really surprised at how strong courageous it was. It has now been named the "Rambo Damselfish"!
- Seeing a school of baby barracudas and they were very curious about us in the water and they kept on following us!!
- The people here!! They are all really cool!!
- The sunsets!! The location of this site is pretty remote but it has an amazing view of the sunset and each night it really does take your breath away!
- And many of you have probably guessed this one……..taking Pictures!!! I have taken LOTS of pictures both underwater and above as well as keeping a video diary! As the internet connection here is pretty slow and sporadic and it has been down for the past week, I have not had a chance to get any of the pictures posted on the blog, but don't worry they will be there at some point!
The only bad thing is that on Friday morning (13th Nov 09), when I was diving in the morning, my ears hurt a little and after the dive the nurse here said that my left ear canal was swollen and I could not dive in the afternoon.....but as I caught it early, I was back diving the next morning!
On Saturday (14th Nov 09) afternoon and had my first trip on the Coral Cay boat called Banykin where we went to a different location to dive!! It was awesome!! Two of the guys saw a Whale Shark!!! But as I was in a slightly different location, I missed it!! But hopefully I will be able to see one during my time here!!
Some of the local school kids and teachers came to the site this weekend and we ran something called "Reef Rangers" which is a fun weekend for the kids to raise awareness of the marine environment and also what they can do to protect it for the present and future so this was really good!! I even got a chance to do some magic tricks as well and they went down really well!! Whoo Hoo!!
We also have some people from the government staying with us here for the next four days and they are learning about the reefs and the importance of conserving the marine environments in this area. I is really good to be able to speak to them about this as some of them are in a position to make some real changes!
You know, it's incredible how time flies and I just cant believe I have already been here 2.5 weeks!! and I only have 2.5 weeks to go!! WOW!!
Well that is all for now and hopefully my ear will continue to get better and I will have many more diving stories to write about in the next blog entry!!
Hope you all have a great week!!