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Life as a Reef Doctor Intern: Week 9

Its Saoirse’s 9th week here interning at Reef Doctor, in her latest diary she fills us in on her progress, including her latest reef research training, participating in our new tree project, and taking on important Divemaster responsibilities.

“I’ve had a really good week filled with lots of different activities and jobs. We had a lot of early starts starts due to the tides; most mornings required waking up at 4.30/5am. The majority of the diving this week focused on coral cleaning, mapping the new artificial reef site as well as receiving expert fish and benthic point outs. At the beginning of my internship I had to learn the key indicator species present in the Bay of Ranobe. These species were chosen by Reef Doctor as their absence or presence are good indicators of how the marine environment is doing. However, as the other interns and I have now been here for 2 months we have started to learn about more species in order to be able to conduct expert surveys. It’s extremely interesting to learn about all the different species and their characteristics. It also makes diving more enjoyable and really shows you how complex and unique the marine life here actually is!

The other interns and I are starting to receive more responsibilities; we are now base managing which involves opening the dive shop, preparing the oxygen tanks and first aid kits as well as keeping the radio and dive phone on you at all times in case of an emergency. We have also started leading dives, which can be nerve racking at the beginning, especially if you have to find your way back to the boat in tricky conditions and on a dive site you don’t know very well! It is however a really good learning experience and has really increased my confidence as a diver. The main goal of leading dives is of course to practise being dive masters as well as to prepare ourselves for when the new interns arrive, whom we will then have to train. So even though some of the new responsibilities may be quite tricky at the beginning, I am overall really enjoying the new responsibilities and increased independence it gives us.

Furthermore, I have also become involved in a new forest conservation project. Madagascar has a huge problem with deforestation; the human population is constantly increasing and people are using too much wood for cooking, construction purposes among other things. Consequently, the aim of this project is to provide the local community with an alternative and sustainable source of wood by establishing a tree nursery. It will educate villagers on the importance of protecting and restoring forests as well as providing them with a renewable resource. We are trying to use trees that will grow quickly but that will also be beneficial to the environment, for example important nitrogen fixers, or effective erosion controllers that will then help minimise pollution as well as attracting wildlife. It’s a great project that aims to confront one of Madagascar’s biggest environmental issues while at the same time trying to find solutions, which will benefit the locals as well as the environment.

And finally, it’s a week and a half until Christmas but it doesn’t feel very festive at all here. Not in a bad way, it’s just hard to think of Christmas when it’s 35 degrees outside! We are however planning to cook a big feast together so I will keep you updated on how that goes.

Hope you enjoyed the post!”

Saoirse Flood