With no internet around the Musandam, below is a short summary of the expedition starting with Catherine’s records from day 3 onwards. Pictures of it all have gone up below. Thank you to everyone who made the expedition such a success. You were a great team and it was a great expedition. Another step towards that ultimate aim of a Musandam marine protected area. You could have lounged on a beach somewhere or gone shopping in Dubai. Instead you did this. Thank you! Safe travels and see you again someday, somewhere.
Day 3 (8 Oct) – Yoga at dawn followed by breakfast en route to Eagle Bay. There were no eagles, or sooty falcons (our terrestrial flagship species for this expedition), but plenty of ospreys swooping around. Even more excitingly, a 6 metre whale shark swam straight over a team of divers completing their in-water Reef Check ID test! Jean-Luc, our scientist, confirmed this area to be a perfect place for a marine protected area, and with Amran Al Kamzari from the Oman Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, and Antonia Vegh from the Environment Society of Oman as part of our team, we have a couple of good ambassadors to make this a reality!
Day 4 (9 Oct) – First full day of Reef Check, three surveys, three different locations, all performed with great enthusiasm. Huge bait balls, ripping currents, humpback Indo-Pacific dolphins, turtles and manta rays just adding to the enjoyment of this stunning lunar landscape.
Day 5 (10 Oct) – With the first survey completed before 8:30, scientist Jean-Luc and expedition leader in training, Catherine, yours truly, decided to perform a snorkelling recce at the backside of the island. With masks and snorkels donned, the team proceeded to swim around the back of Abu Sarr island collecting data as they went. The highlight for some was the amazing night dive at Coral Garden, filled with lobster, shrimp, cow fish, cat fish and a plethora of coral.
Day 6 (11 Oct) – The first dive survey of the day was at Ras Taher, an unusual site, exposed to strong currents, so therefore exhibiting different species. This provided a challenge for the team, which they met and overcome with great skill and teamwork. As our reward, we were treated to the gem of a site, Pipi beach, where thousand year old porites corals dominated, creating an incredible cathedral-like underwater landscape, inhabited by turtles, huge schools of snapper, and an army of barracuda. It also happened to be our expedition leader’s birthday, so we celebrated with an enormous and very elaborate boat shaped cake. Happy birthday Matthias!
Day 7 (12 Oct) – The last day of the expedition, and a leisurely dive or snorkel at Telegraph island. All kit was packed and documented, then we were away, back to the hustle and bustle of Dubai; the tranquility of the Musandam peninsular a beautiful memory.