Friday, September 30, 2005

30th September

Hello Bloggers! Here’s our end of week Blue Ventures update……

For all those eager to hear more about our boating ventures - the arrival of Tson Tso has meant our existing boat Alo Alo has been taken out of the water for some much needed maintenance after two solid years on the water working hard us.

Wednesday saw the start of the English lessons taught to local children by expedition members. These lessons came with some changes to the way we carry out the teaching. The class which contains a wide range of abilities was split into two - a beginner’s class and a more advanced class. The beginners class were taught using some brand new teaching materials sent out from the London office and the intermediate class were excited to receive the next batch of letters from Santa Barbara, USA. These letters are sent as part of the letter exchange programme introduced by elementary school teacher Gabrielle Johnson. All the letters were beautifully presented in a special folder decorated with fish and whale designs. The Andavadoaka school children were also sent homemade bookmarks containing pressed flowers.

“Charismatic megafauna” made another appearance this week when group members were treated to a whale sighting. They were spotted by the boatmarshall just about 50 metres from the nearshore site where the dive was taking place! Those on shore were able to watch a display of four breaching humpbacks and in fact it was only the divers that missed out!

Meetings have been going on with different family groups in Andavadoaka to discuss whether the village is ready to create a second octopus no-take reserve.

The ominous sign of frigate birds appeared as they were seen flying over the beach yesterday and it rained in Andavadoaka today. This sadly could be a sign of an oncoming storm, so we’ll just have to wait for news on that!

And for our non-expedition animal of the blog: a giant squid was has been captured on camera for the first time this week. Scientists in Japan have taken the first photo of a giant squid, which, up until now has only been seen as dead or dying, when washed up on shore. This is a pretty spectacular discovery and demonstrates the ways in which increased marine research is enabling us to see the mystical creatures previously undocumented.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

27th September, 2005

Now we are fully launched into the “Blogosphere” we can get underway with updates from both base and field.

Having newly arrived at the base in Andavadoaka our new volunteers were invited to the wedding of Mr Sidoine (an octopus sous collector). 14 Blue Ventures staff and volunteers joined the party for lunch in the Grand Salle of the village Catholic Mission. Over 100 people joined in the festivities and were treated to a sit down lunch with drinks and a many-tiered wedding cake was brought out. Following that there were speeches music and dancing.

On Thursday 22nd September Andavadoaka has celebrated a new arrival – Tson Tso (trigger fish) our new boat. It was christened by a Malagasy fomba, a traditional ceremony, both Tulear before its maiden voyage and also in Andava before its first ever dive trip.

On Sunday 25th a new face also arrived at Andava – Minna Epps, our new socio-economic researcher started her handover from Josephine our 1st socio economic researcher, who will be leaving us after 9 months in the position, at the end of October.

On a more general note. Malagasy and German scientists have found 2 new species of lemur in Madagascar: the giant mouse lemur and Goodman’s mouse lemur. Lemurs are exclusive to Madagascar and sadly are the most endangered of all primates, with a third of all species already extinct. These discoveries highlight that there is still so much of Malagasy biodiversity that needs to be explored and understood.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Hello and Welcome

So, welcome to our 1st real entry that launches you and us into the world of Blue Ventures blogging. This will serve as a brief overview to bring you up to speed about some of the activities and achievements of the Blue Ventures team.
Since 2002, Blue Ventures' has immersed itself in Malagasy life in Andavadoaka, Southwest Madagascar. We have worked closely with the community at a number of levels, for example on a socio-economic level: introducing sustainable octopus fishing methodologies; and also on a personal level: teaching English to local school children.
Keen to maintain high environmental standards we came up with a cunning plan - on World Environment Day (June 5th 2005) a beach cleaning competition was organised for the Malagasy local children. This was eagerly participated in and gave an enjoyable dimension to a job that needed doing. Our major news however, is that Blue Ventures were among five winners of the Supporting Entrepreneurs for Environment and Development (SEED) Initiative Awards 2005 for its innovative contribution to sustainable development. This award is a real boost and demonstrates the recognition conservation and sustainable development are getting.
As the site is now between groups we don’t have any immediate news, however here’s a brief update of some events from Expedition 17:

27th August – Volleyball match against the Catholic Mission.
Catholic Mission won – just!

1st September – Ladies football match Blue Ventures v. Andavadoaka
ladies team. Andavadoaka won 2:1

11th September – Lamboara, a second village, are proposing to create an octopus no-take reserve from 1st December 2005 to 30th April 2006.

15th September – Andavadoaka residents met to discuss a second octopus no-take reserve.

There have also been regular sightings of Humpback whales – two in the lagoon very close to Andavadoaka rock. Also pods of over 100 dolphins have been seen.
So it’s been a hot expedition on the “Megafauna” front.

As for Expedition 18, we’ll have to wait for news and stories of what they’ll be getting up to....

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

In the beginning...

Since we started Blue Ventures 3 years ago so much has happened and changed… Past volunteers regularly ring us up to ask us about people they got to know and love on their expeditions, future volunteers ask us questions about the company or about the country they are visiting, or people are simply interested to hear what’s going on. This blog is an attempt to compile some of the stories, pictures and blue ventures (sorry) that occur as the organisation develops.