Today is the second day of the MantaWatch Internship Program 2015, and our team is preparing to ensure all our activities this month will run smoothly.
This morning we visited Komodo National Park Office (Balai Taman Nasional Komodo) to introduce our program. MantaWatch staff gave a presentation about manta conservation to the National Park staff, and promoted the idea of collaboration between government agencies and the tourism industry to protect marine ecosystems in this area. We received very keen feedback from the Park Authority to work together to protect manta rays, and we learned that in the local Manggarai language the name for manta rays is ‘molas’ or ‘beautiful’.
In the afternoon we started our advanced dive training, to help develop our skills before starting manta surveys. Our first dive was to the north of Bidadari Island, just 30 minutes from Labuan Bajo. Our goal here was to practice PPB or Peak Performance Buoyancy. Our instructor was Rian from Dive Komodo, and he gave us tips on efficient finning techniques that will help us in the strong currents of Komodo National Park. We learned how to do scissor kicks, heli kicks, and back kicks, it was awesome!.
Next, we went to a beach at Sture Island, where we learned about underwater navigation, an essential skill for advanced divers. We began by practicing using a compass on the beach. Not too difficult, but next we had to try in theÂ water!
It’s really challenging navigating underwater! We had to deal with currents, visibility, buoyancy, and more, while still remembering how to use our compass. We tried to make a square pattern using the compass, and return to our start point. We then tried using natural references, using features such as corals and rocks to find our way back. It sounds easy, but it was a challenging test. Along the way we were very happy to meet lionfish, beautiful nudibranchs, moray eels, and sea stars. Thank you Rian and Dive Komodo for enabling us to do this course.
After completing all our tasks today, it was time to go home. Our journey back was lit by an amazing sunset. Thank you MantaWatch and Guy’s Trust. What will we meet tomorrow? I can’t wait to find out!