Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Perspectives from our First Dolphin Project Volunteer

Tom has joined us with the launch of our Dolphin Research Volunteer Project...

I think I am a little different to the others here. As much as I have gathered from conversations between mouthfuls at dinner, everyone else is involved in some type of conservation work, or has spent, or is spending months travelling. Not me!

I am a so-called IT professional, owed a couple of week’s holiday and couldn’t stand the idea of sitting on a beach reading and sunning myself. I had two weeks, no plans, a hatred of being bored and fancied something different... so I packed my bags and headed to Kenya for a couple of weeks of marine conservation work. That was two weeks ago, and I am sitting here on my last day wondering how I can wangle more time off work so I can come back again.

To say conditions here are rustic is a small understatement; no fresh water except that which is collected when it rains, the shower facilities consist of a bucket and jug on the floor and the toilet is, literally, a hole in the floor. And with all this 'rusticness' comes probably the greatest sense of community and togetherness I have ever experienced. You are never alone here, unless you want to be. If you are feeling under the weather, everyone does whatever they can to help you out (I had my fair share of acclimatisation problems); if you are feeling down, they will do whatever it takes to cheer you up and if you do want some time to yourself, then they will leave you to it.

Despite my intentions, being here is not a holiday, you work most days, cooking, cleaning, building, but everyone has their jobs and everyone helps each other where they can, adding to the sense of community. Working on marine conservation is quite simply amazing. The best way to describe it is probably to quote a text I sent a friend of mine; “Typical day, up just before sunrise, have breakfast and traipsed down to the boat. Watched the sun come up across the water then started 'work'. 7am, watching a pod of bottlenose dolphins feeding 20 meters from the boat; 10am snorkeling on a reef looking for turtles, managed to photo a green before it swam away; 11.30am back on the boat heading home for lunch, took a light detour to watch humpback dolphins socialising. Back at base to learn about the dolphins and turtles we saw, relax in a hammock, do a little computer work, then dinner, and drinks in Paradise. Tomorrow, more of the same”. Let’s just say the response I received was blunt and to the point (she was a little envious).

Were it possible, I would stay out here longer, and am I definitely heading back to explore further. Unfortunately, the 'modern world' beckons. I’ve been two weeks without television, internet access, cars, running water, a microwave and have only sent and received 10 texts in total which for a so called IT professional borders on heresy... and I’ve loved every minute of it.