Desert Storm

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Mohammed Qol - 22/10/2012 - written By Steven Kessel

Yesterday was pretty uneventful. We woke early as always, sleeping outside here has some benefits (or drawbacks depending on your point of view). As soon as the sun rises so do the flies, and they want to make friends with your face. They are incredibly persistent and no matter how much you try to hide under the sheets, they continue to hassle you until you give up and get up. This fly alarm clock works every time and has as all up at dawn. The wind had really died off and a hour or so after we rose we saw the wildlife officer arrive with the boat outside the lagoon. We did have grand aspirations of getting out on the water to photo ID some of the manta rays (and just finally get out on the water), but not long after the boat arrived the wind really picked up again. So it was back to the remedial tasks around the camp. Tampering with the compressor, testing the tanks and dive gear, programming the satellite tags and planning the next weeks field work.

Last night there was a BIG storm that came very close to us as we slept on the porch. The wind was very strong and we all had trouble holding onto our sheets and blankets. Fortunately all the rain missed us as we would have really struggled to sleep inside with the heat. Right now I don’t think we are so lucky. I am sitting in the in darkness in the kitchen as I have had to stow the generator. The rain is coming. There is lightning all around us and a storm to rival any tropical storm I ever experienced in the Bahamas. The rain has started but is not monsoon like just yet, here it comes. Going to stop for a little while as I am not sure how waterproof these desert buildings are (they are not really designed for the rain) and I don’t want my computer to get wet. The monsoon style rains are upon us and so far the shack is holding up ok, so I can continue. I am worried about the rest of our crew. They should be on the road from Port Sudan right now. Luckily they opted out of riding up in the back of the truck in favor of a second car, but their luggage and our gear may well be in the back of said truck. Not a great welcome for our arriving team members Graham, Ben and Rebecca.

Nigel and Claudio left this morning with two members of the Wildlife Administration to collect supplies in Port Sudan and collect the team members. I remained here in Mohammed Qol to guard the camp and continue the field work preparations. I have been testing gear and painting sand anchors, for the acoustic monitor moorings, with anti fowling paint all day. We were visited by some fishermen in our lagoon. We bought some fish for dinner and I chatted to them for a long time about manta rays and saw fish (through Mohammed Younis as an interpreter of course). The storm had been threatening us for a while now, but since the one last night missed us I just ignored it and carried on. I had just finished prepping the camp for the team arrival and was about to start making dinner when it hit. Tomorrow we planned to head out in the search for manta rays, all going to plan we still will, but we will have to see what state we are in once this storm is over. Claudio told us that after the rain swarms of flies and mosquitoes emerge, so we have that to look forward to. Still I always like to test my reactions with them so it is them who should be afraid. The rain is starting to beach the building now so I better sign off.

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