So the past few weeks have been busy and not busy all at the same time. We’ve been light on forest volunteers and everyone has come together nicely to get the essentials taken care of. Also, it’s been the holidays – Christmas and New Year. We had nice breaks to enjoy both but are now back to the grind with a load of new volunteers arriving last weekend. I’m really enjoying the multitude of things I’m doing her between forest walks and social media tasks.
Some other things I’ve done recently have been more on the personal achievements side. I completed my PADI Advanced Open Water certification. I’m now able to go deeper, navigate with a compass, and other essential diving skills. As I’ve fallen in love with this sport, I just enrolled to do my Rescue Diver certification in my remaining weeks at MRCI. A long term goal will be to get my Dive Master when I return home.
I also went on a proper whale shark expedition. After seeing them to and from Nosy Iranja, I knew I needed to spend a day with them. I wanted to do it right and went with Les Baleines Rand’eau. This company is all about whale shark conservation and they ensure an experience that does not compromise the animals. The whole day was worth it and thankful to Nicole for letting me take her GoPro!
We started with snorkeling with gigantic green turtles. I’ve decided they’re my new spirit animal. They’re big and slow and at the age of 2, they go vegetarian for the rest of their life.
Next, the hunt wason to find the whale sharks. I was preparing to not see them as the season was winding to a close. They migrate… but alas a known gorgeous whale shark, fondly named Michel, made an appearance. Baleines is well skilled in getting customers the ultimate experience without harming or scaring the animals. They would get in from of the shark and patrons would gently slide off the boat with snorkel and fins donned. Michel would gracefully swim towards us and we were free to snorkel along side him. He’s beautiful. The Malagasy name for Whale Sharks translates to “starry night”. I was in love!
After getting in with Michel about 7-8 times we got wind that there were some giant manta rays near by. We sped over to where they were spotted and made our way into the water. I, unfortunately, didn’t take the camera this trip in… but that said I was blown away by their beauty and enjoyed just being with them. We saw 6 giant mantas and about 40 smaller mobula rays. This was an amazing day in the water and it didn’t even require a tank and regulator. Totally worth every bit of the $75 I spent to go. Also, lunch was included – bonus!
Aside from that, things have been pretty quiet the last few weeks. Just enjoying my time at camp with the MRCI family. I only have about 3 weeks left and I hope to make the most of it!