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The Wilderness Society

Getting our groove back

Inhambane, Mozambique, was not going to make it easy for us to just leave her in one easy swoop.

No sooner had we loaded the boat up with some of our heavier clobber from the beach, the heavens decided to open up, again, and dump half of Africa’s annual rainfall onto our heads. Ok, maybe it was not that dramatic – take a look at the pictures and decide for yourself!

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A few days later we discovered that this was some of the worst flooding that Mozambique had experienced for quite a while, flooding out towns very close to us and causing widespread damage and loss of life.

We had to wait for the boat to enter the Inhambane port area before we could get the boat crew stamped into the country and head out to start the diving. So, between small breaks of the torrential downpour, we loaded up all the remaining gear into what we hoped would be our final chapas ride for a while, and drove from Tofo to Inhambane town. Collecting all our last minute supplies, the boat arrived, settled just in front of the pier and the customs procedures began.

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While this was underway, the now incredibly wet luggage and EAMT team began ferrying everything to our new boat. Fortunately it didn’t take too long – the ferrying and the customs – and as if on cue, with everyone on the boat, the clouds cleared and the rain let up. Apparently it has something to do with this guy called Murphy and his laws.

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We looked like a group of drowned rats, but the feeling of setting our feet onto the vessel that was going to be home for the next few months was nothing short of releasing a breath you have been holding for ages. We also have a nice new crew, consisting of Greg the skipper and Tyler and Jarod – two very bouncy young ‘dudes’ from SA.

The great thing about this boat is that, after the first night out in the water, there has been minimal to no seasickness. This, I can promise you, is a wonderful relief! Our only obstacles now are time, visibility and the weather.

But after what we have had to face to get to this point – all I can say is – piece of ugali.

Mind the communication gap

One of the things we have been fighting with since we left South Africa – actually, if I am more honest it was since we left Durban – is being able to find signal.

Communication has been incredibly difficult, and at times downright impossible. It is particularly frustrating for those of us on the team who are used to being connected and plugged into social media and network streams that are pretty much the flick of a button away. Emails, reports, updates, and just plain old sms are becoming our daily challenge – that is, when we don’t have our heads under the water.

A few days later we discovered that this was some of the worst flooding that Mozambique had experienced for quite a while, flooding out towns very close to us and causing widespread damage and loss of life.

Most evenings when the boat has found a safe mooring, often behind some tropical paradise island offshore, you can see everyone gingerly taking his or her eyes off the magnificent sunsets, and reaching for any cell phone device to check on the ‘bar status’. Sometimes it’s fleeting and sometimes it just teases us by having a few bars of signal, but no connection. Either way, it doesn’t stop everyone from crowding around Justin’s tablet, sitting on the roof of the boat (it has been designated at the best signal spot after extensive surveys), all faces eerily glowing in front of the computer and phone screens, hoping for a chance to connect.

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It’s not that we can’t live without our respective devices – we really can! And in this day and age of instant connectivity it is sometimes nice to unplug, disconnect and slip quietly into a black hole. But when we are trying to run an expedition, we are often finding ourselves willing that one bar of signal into existence that will let us do our job (so to speak).

One of the reasons might also be that Mozambique has an incredibly massive coastline, with signal towers not being in vast supply in some of the more remote areas. Being slightly offshore does not help our cause much.

So, now that we are heading up the coast making progress into Tanzania, hopefully with a much larger chance of being able to bridge that communication gap we have all been experiencing, and keep you all at home and abroad updated.

Just this morning we were woken up to the beeping of one of the cell phones, a sound we had all but forgotten: ”Karibu Tanzania”. And hopefully for us that means “Karibu signal.”

The Human Ocean

For four months, a six-person team made up of scientists, photographers and social entrepreneurs will sail in the vessel, Lo Entorpy, a 70'ft monohull beauty on an expedition along the east coast of Africa. Their aim? To use a technology called stereo-imaging to dive and film transects spanning from Mozambique to Kenya to provide the first baseline assessment of the fish fauna spanning the length of the East African ecosystem. Join the team as they explore the relationship between humanity, our marine environment, science, technology and cultures in order to shift in the way we build or begin to build our conservation networks on coral reefs.

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