Today we started and finished with a dive.
First thing we loaded up the boat and headed out to clean the reef pods. The plan to go early paid off – the tide was slack and the visibility decent. We scrubbed and plucked seaweed and other algae off the metal frames to allow coral to establish itself more easily. As we worked the lovely colourful little fish that have already colonised the pods darted about picking out morsels of food.
Since we began early we had plenty of time in the middle of the day to work around the village. We finished off some brickwork at the playground, liberated the school’s toilet block from encroaching vines and loaded the boat with our finished reef pods, ready for deployment. At 3 o’clock we kitted up again for our second dive, this time to install our very own reef pods underwater. When we got to the right spot Heather scoped it out underwater then Kylie and Som* threw the reef pods and concrete weights overboard. We all jumped in and went down to arrange them. There was a little bit of pandemonium at first, especially as the visibility was quite low and we kicked up a lot of sediment but once everyone worked out what we each had to do and where it went like clockwork. Taking a concrete block in each hand (they have rope handles) and puffing up our BCD’s we walked the blocks along the seafloor. By waddling along like this in a little parade we got the weights in position and tied them to the pods, securing the whole complex in no time at all. We even had some spare time so we cleaned some of the established pods again. As we cleaned a couple of big trevally darted around. It’s exciting to think that our pods will soon be covered in marine life and become important habitat for fishes.
After we surfaced the evening was so lovely and the water was so warm that we took a bit of time to play around. We practiced dives and group cannonballs, rocking and splashing Kylie and Som the whole time. Sometimes giggling and trying to tread water at the same time is a difficult task.
Tomorrow is our final day of work on the island! We will try to work as hard as we can but of course there will be time for a fun dive too!
* Som is the local Khmer man who helps Kylie on the boat. He is equal parts man and sea eagle. He can spot bobbing heads that are invisible to the rest of us, toss heavy scuba gear high onto the pier with a single bound and start a motor/lower the propeller with his hands while steering with his feet.