Shane joins us from Minnesota, USA as an eight week combination volunteer. He spent his first two weeks on the marine project and will also spend time on the forest, community and Tsavo West programs. Shane learnt quickly that sun cream is a man’s best friend in Kenya.
It had been darker that morning, and colder than it had been the week before. We had almost a full week previously of blue skies and rosy-red sunburns (always bring plenty of sunscreen, trust me). At 7 am we made our way through the nearby community of Mkwiro here on Wasini Island and with many onlookers, proceeded with all our gear down to the beach. It’s common for members of the Muslim community to pay close attentions to our doings within their area. We are greeted with a “jambo” here and a “jambo” there as we go by. We cram all that can be carried on to a small motor boat and putt over to our main vessel, the faithful “Bardan”.
As we set out on the channel I start my first task of keeping watch starboard for any signs of marine life. Most of our time is spent on watching the waves for any splashes or shapes that might just be what we are looking for, but then with a “switch”, I move to the back of the boat to begin recording our target observations. Someone calls out “trap” and the location, number, and other information is jotted onto paper. To the left is a splash, “turtle” is shouted. That is quickly written down. Twenty minutes later, I find myself port side gazing upon the waves once again. Waves, waves, more waves, a splash, but that was just a wave. The boat rocks back and forth, slamming the rough waters. The strong winds lift up the salty spray over the sides and into our faces. It is but only a minor distraction (refreshing in some cases). We continue our watch.
A couple of hours pass when we reach the Kisite Marine Park. Time to wash out the snorkel and mask, slip on the flippers, and jump in! Up to this point we have kept our eyes on the blue/green ebbing waves, but now, underneath the waters are revealed to be teeming with life. A mosaic of fish of all shapes and sizes are unveiled moving about amidst the massive clusters of coral beneath. Onward we swim through the warm current and to our surprise numerous rays are spotted. Some are gliding away, wavelike themselves. Others lie nearly hidden on the sandy floor. For an hour and a half we continue on until it’s time to leave the aquatic zoo to get on board for lunch. It is no five-star entrée, but it is gladly welcomed (who needs fancy food when you can have such an amazing experience in the ocean?). With full stomachs and having rehydrated (always a must), we shift to “dedicated search” and head back to base. The clouds have given way to blue sky, which means it’s time to apply the sunscreen.
Our return is alike the way out; just keeping all eyes on the waves. It is important to do this in order to know the coming and going of the changing sea conditions, whatever they may be, and what that might mean for our marine friends. Arrival at the beach signals the end of our survey day. The anchor is down, and with our gear loaded onto the motor boat, we cast of to the shore leaving Bardan behind until tomorrow.
Shane Omersa – 8 week combination volunteer