Monday, March 26, 2007

Jewellery auction supporting Blue Ventures

A jewellery designer called Shirley Boyt has created a charm bracelet inspired by the Blue Planet TV series. Shirley has kindly offered to donate 25% of all sales to Blue Ventures to support the marine conservation work we do in Madagascar.
You can view the bracelet on Ebay by following the link below.

Ebay - item no. 250097531830

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A new Arrival.

Arriving in Anadavadoaka is not something for which you can really prepare. Having travelled for nearly 4 days from home in London expectations are pretty high, but safe to say it was definitely worth it! On arrival everyone seemed in awe of the idyllic location and beachfront huts where they were to spend the next 6 weeks. For myself, arriving as a staff member having worked as an intern in the London office, you would have thought I'd be ready for it all, but the photos do not really do it justice, and in reality the view from my hut is simply breathtaking.
Settling in to my new home has been both a joy and a challenge, but one that I have accepted readily. The odd cockroach is certainly outweighed by the presence of small geckos, lizards and chameleons- their characteristic squeaking noise and penchant for mosquitoes makes them welcome house guests.
The first meal was a welcome surprise having been warned to prepare myself for months of rice, beans and fish. Imagine my surprise when along with said rice, beans and fish we were served a plate of pasta and even some vegetables-bonus! While rice and beans do tend to be a main feature of most meals, we also get amazing prawns which I absolutely adore, crab and lobster on occasion and even the odd serving of chicken or goat- a veritable banquet! Conversation does
frequently shift to food during the day, as the fantastic diving certainly builds an appetite, but with the addition of spices and sauces purchased in Toliara en route meal times are very satisfying (especially when our favourite pudding emerges from the kitchen after dinner- banana bok bok!)
I cannot think of many things better than living in a tropical location with the sound of the waves lapping against the shore lulling me to sleep every night. I think it is going to be a good 9

Sophie Benbow
Field Scientist

Monday, March 19, 2007

International Womens Day

I have now been in Andavadoaka for just over three weeks, and each day seems to go by faster than the last! I have greatly enjoyed learning about coral reefs and SCUBA diving, but being welcomed as a part of Andavadoaka has been an even greater privilege. From the moment we walk into the village, we are greeted by a chorus of people (mostly children) calling out "Salama," which is "Hello" in Malagasy.

Last week the BV staff and volunteers celebrated International Women's Day with the people of Andavadoaka. The day began with a parade of women - both locals and BV women - through the streets of Andavadoaka, and the parade ended at the public primary school.

At the school, a ceremony began with the raising of the flag and everyone singing the Madagascan national anthem. Listening to all their voices proudly united in a song of their country was an awesome experience. It's a very familiar scene back home in the US, but it seemed so much more meaningful to me to hear them sing about their love of Madagascar, a struggling third-world country, than to hear people back home singing about the US. Their song was so beautiful, and I wished I could sing along!

The rest of the program involved a lot of music and dance. Everyone dances here, no matter your age! The crowd cheered extra loud when the elder women demonstrated their dance moves. We watched on with children pressing in at our feet. They were trying to stay in the shade as the blazing sun crept over the top of the building. Jenny, our expedition manager, gave a little speech of thanks in well-rehearsed Malagasy to a very receptive crowd. I don't know exactly what she said, but it probably couldn't have expressed how grateful we are for the hospitality we have felt here. I really enjoyed taking part in this joyful celebration with the people of Andavadoaka.

Kristen (Volunteer)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Village of Andavadoaka, Finalists in the UNDP Equator Prize, 2007

This week the village of Andavadoaka joins an esteemed list of 25 finalists for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Equator prize, 2007.

The prize recognises sustainable community initiatives in the tropics that help to reduce poverty through the conservation of biodiversity.

The remote community of Andavadoaka, Madagascar has been acknowledged for its work in partnership with Blue Ventures and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), developing community run marine protected areas in the remote southwest of the country.

The initial closure of octopus no take zones in 2004-2005 proved so successful that neighbouring villages were keen to implement further conservation plans, and the Madagascar government used results from initial trials to develop national fisheries management legislation in 2005. Due to the success of the project local communities have now established plans for an MPA network incorporating 21 other villages in the region and covering 700km2.

Andavadoaka and its conservation partners understand the inextricable link between the livelihoods of the local population and the health of the marine resources, and recognised that the key to success of the initiative is community involvement. Local villagers work alongside Blue Ventures and WCS research scientists to develop alternative sustainable livelihoods, including aquaculture businesses, the construction of a community owned eco-lodge, and the development of environmental education and ecotourism programmes.

Andavadoaka hopes that the successes of its MPA programme will serve as a model for other villages, both in Madagascar and worldwide, demonstrating how local communities can protect their marine resources for the benefit of people and the marine environment.

The 5 winning initiatives are expected to be announced on World Environment Day, 5th June 2007.

For more information please see Blue Ventures Research Updates or