After Saturday night in the desert (at the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, our Arabia project partners), we returned to Dubai on Sunday morning, collected the team and set off to the Musandam peninsula.
Surrounded by impressive sandstone mountains, our vessel – the MY Sindabad – took us to our first dive at the glorious Pipi Beach on Sunday afternoon. Dwarfed by massive coral stands, several hundered years old, the team checked out their diving kit and skills and gazed in awe at the underwater scene.
After that great introduction to the Musandam’s underwater world, the team knuckled down to some serious Reef Check training, and with 5 lectures, 2 dives and a test (with 100% pass rate – well done everyone!), the second day (Monday) of the expedition was successfully completed, and the MY Sindabad continued its journey around the peninsula.
Now firmly in the MPA (marine protected area) that was partly brought about by Biosphere Expeditions survey work here, we have begun to have a look around. Dive sites vary from heavily silted to abundant coral and fish life. For example, our ID test dive on Tuesday at Osprey Point (complete with osprey nest and feeding chick), was rich in diversity.
Gargoyle Cliffs was the site of our mock survey, and with a strong surge buffeting us, the team collected its first data set. It was more challenging than Nadege and Kristoffer, who were undertaking the fish survey, had imagined it would be, with hundreds of snappers to count whilst avoiding being smashed against the corals!
So, with Reef Check training completed, and a fully qualified EcoDiver team now in action, some decided to celebrate with a night dive. Nasser and Kristoffer saw (and documented), a cuttlefish spawning – a very rare sight indeed.
This morning, after dawn yoga, and after we said goodbye to Matthias, Kathy, Liesl, Lukas and Sophie, we start our surveys proper, and will endeavour to investigate as many sites in the MPA as we can.