All is well in Mozambique! The past week has been a crazy busy one. After about 42 hours of travel from Minneapolis to Atlanta and Atlanta to Johannesburg by plane then a 14 hour bus ride, we finally made it to Tofo last week. Once arrived, there was very little down time from meeting new people to kick starting research. By 8pm (Mozambique time), the ability to finally lay horizontal and pass out felt amazing. No time for jet lag here. The first full day in Tofo started with testing out the inflatable kayak we lugged all the way from the US for the ability to get back in the kayak after flipping it (safely, obviously, in case it were to happen). Then we hit the water on an ocean safari with Peri Peri Divers to test out all our equipment and sampling procedure. At first, we saw three manta rays and a pod of dolphins and were about to head back so we started our sampling. As soon as we were about to throw our sampling bottle in the water, someone spots a whaleshark!!! So everyone on the boat (except me) jumps in the water to snorkel with the whaleshark. I stayed on the boat to sample, but still got a few pictures of the shark from the surface and handed my camera to another researcher in the water, who was able to capture some good shots. He was pretty small, only about 4m in length (whalesharks can get up to 18m long), but it was still impressive. I accomplished my summer goal of seeing a whaleshark!
The last few days have been filled with more sampling and solidifying research methods and goals for the summer. It has been a lot of work, but I have been so lucky to have three other amazing female scientists come with me to Mozambique and help me practice. I’m also so fortunate in general for all of our partners helping with this research. It truly could not happen without the support of All Out Africa, Peri Peri Divers, the Albatroz (where I’m staying), and so many other friendly people with a love and appreciation for science. I had high hopes of people being friendly and it being easy to meet people and make friends for an easy transition to Mozambique, but never could I have imagined how amazing it truly is to be here. Everybody is amazingly friendly and so fun to talk to and meet. My accommodations at the Albatroz are a million times better than what I was expecting. I was expecting many bugs and very little electricity at wherever I was staying, but instead, the accommodations are incredibly clean, open, and relatively bug free (for the tropics). The food is also extremely delicious, which I was told, and it lives up to expectations. The place is right next to All Out Africa, so waking up in the morning and “going to work” basically involves rolling out of bed, putting on sunscreen, and walking five steps out my door. Peri Peri Divers is also located right next door, so every place pertinent to my day is in one central location.
So far, I’ve done one dive, but plan to do many this summer, including my PADI Rescue Diver course. Other water activities have mostly consisted of me riding along with the dive boat to get to the dive site and sample the water for plankton. I’m sampling water at 5m depth, the same depth where a safety stop occurs. When on the dive, the safety stop was a very cool part, not because of the small stuff, but because of the tiny plankton I was watching the whole time. I’m so excited to see what this summer will bring as far as results and findings. More about my research will soon come. So stay tuned!
Tomorrow I’ll be going out on another ocean safari just for fun. Hopefully we’ll see some cool stuff, but let’s be honest, this is the ocean so everything is cool. It is also the last day that the other three researchers that came with me will be in Mozambique, then I’ll be left on my own for the summer to complete my sampling and hopefully gather lots of data to bring back and analyze. Analysis will help us hopefully answer lots of questions we have about this area, again, more to come.