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Mohammed Qol - 31/10/2012 - written by Steven Kessel

Once again we had a great day out on the water. We awoke to completely calm conditions. There was not a breath of wind and this is a good thing and a bad thing. Great for finding mantas and driving the boats on flat calm water, but bad when you stop and the sun begins to cook you without a breeze to cool you down. Still it was definitely a benefit today. We had three teams heading out today; Nige, Graham, Cam and Mohammed Younis headed out to tag more mantas; Claudio, Ben and I went to start putting in the acoustic monitor moorings; and Joey and Sparky headed out to finish the reef fish genetic collections.

The first monitor we deployed was at the far south end of Magarsam Island, over 10 miles away. With a small engine and a driver who was more interested in trolling for fish than getting anywhere fast, it took us an hour and a half to get there. Still it was a very beautiful boat ride. I dove the first monitor in and the sand anchor went in perfectly, this was a big relief as I was worried the sand would be too shallow. Claudio deployed the second and Ben the third. I was watching Ben from the surface snorkeling, he had just finished fixing on the monitor and was sending up the SMB for the boat to take the GPS point. Out of nowhere a large (>2m) shark rushed in, circled rapidly a few times and then swam off into the deep. It happened so fast that I couldn’t be sure of the species. I was sure Ben had seen it since it was so close, but like many times you are working underwater, you are so focused that you just don’t see what is in front of you.

We managed to deploy seven of the acoustic monitor so now we can start to collect data on all these tags we have been deploying. We dove 11 sites, but at four the sand was too shallow for the anchors. We will have to redesign the moorings for these sites. Towards the end of the day we encountered the manta tagging crew. They had a great day tagging a further five manta rays, three double tagged with acoustic and Cam’s satellite tags. After arriving back at camp we met the fish genetics crew who had also had a productive day and fill their Dugonab collection quota. Everyone is happy and everyone is tired so we are all off to bed now.

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