A day in a diving volunteers life
I hear my alarm clock ring and begin to come to life. Another alarm clock rings and I’m awake for real. It’s quarter to six in the morning and it’s time for me and my seven room mates whose alarm clocks are ringing one after the other to get up.
Today, my group has boat duty and need to pick up everything we need out of the boat, such as life jackets, oxygen and other essentials needed on a dive boat. I see others begin to fill our tanks and others standing in the kitchen and getting our breakfast ready. We all have our duties to do every day. When we’re done, we go into the kitchen and see that there’s porridge for breakfast, again. Maybe not the tastiest but my stomach is happy.
Today’s first diving is coral spotting. Me and two of my new volunteer friends follow Grace, one of the staff. She points out a small coral. I swim up to it as close as possible without destroying the coral next to it and try to identify it. I recognize the corallites and the walls are steep, it must be a Gardenoseris and I write it down. Grace gives me thumbs up! We spend around 45 minutes trying to identify as many corals as we can and try to become certified in all 50 corals so we can get started on the reason why we are here: Studying coral growth. During our dive Grace turns around and makes the sign for “shark”. Just a few meters from us swims a 1 meter shark gracefully close to the bottom.
Back at base camp it’s time for a lesson of Taxonomy. Followed by some lunch which the food group has prepared for us. After lunch I have some own time which I spend in the large hammock with 5 others, studying coral photos and try to memorize them so I will pass the next coral test we have. Later in the afternoon it’s time for a turtle dive. In buddy pairs we dive 45 minutes and swim in U-shape to try to find the turtles that then we will follow as long as we can, without disturbing it, and write down everything it does.
Me and my buddy are lucky, after a few minutes we see a Hawksbill turtle and I’ll get extra happy when I see that it is Pinky, named her after her pink spots she has on her shell. This is a turtle I’ve met almost every time I go out and snorkel. When we have time off I always go out snorkeling and have become a “friend” with Pinky. We write down everything she does. She swims to the surface and takes a couple of breaths we take notes. She dives down and find some good coral she seems to like a lot, we takes notes. She swims ahead and let me tell you, these creatures know how to swim. She get tired of our company and the gap between us just increases and just seconds later she’s gone. So we dive further and look for more turtles. There are colorful fishes just about everywhere and I find myself looking at the corals and try to identify them, laughing a little at myself because I never thought I would become such a coral geek. Suddenly I feel a pair of eyes staring at me, in a small cave there is an octopus hiding, changes color when I get a little closer.
After I rinsed my scuba gear and taken a quick shower in cold water it is time to go back to the lecture room and watch a documentary. This time it’s about the big market for shark fins and how these poor animals suffer. Before dinner I go down to the beach and watch the world’s most beautiful sunset. Today the sky was completely pink-blue and it looks like a color explosion in the sky. I sit in the white soft sand and just enjoy living on a paradise island in the Seychelles. I love the ocean and I love to dive and get the marine life so close. I get to known people from all around the world and make friends for life with the same interests as me. Darkness falls quickly and I need to go back for dinner. After dinner there is a meeting and we’ll go through tomorrow’s busy schedule.
After a long day, we are all tired but before jumping into bed, we place ourselves on the grass and look at all the stars. Today we saw “only” three shooting stars and I think we all wish that tomorrow is the day when we finally get to see whale sharks. I lay in bed and set the alarm to wake up at 5:45 and waiting for the last roommate to turn the light off so that we can sleep. I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and face a new day with a wonderful diving and maybe I get to meet Pinky and her friends again.
Story & Photography by Susanne Stigsson.