Monday, August 08, 2005

Work Dive Weekend

Last weekend, this past two days was fully packed with the biological monitoring of the Marine Reserve in Lobo Batangas. We had great volunteer divers Mel Deocadez, Benny Campos, Lex Reyes, TJ Isla. We deployed permanent blocks to mark the transects.

Last week we had a pre-dive meeting at Muang Thai and discussed about the prep. It was UPCAT weekend no French and Spanish class for me and the best time out of QC. Meanwhile during the week, there was a storm "Gorio" we monitored his movement to Taiwan and by last Saturday morning there is still some gale warning for northern and western Luzon and satellite images showed cloud cover all over the country a sign of inclement weather. Early morning Saturday, it was raining hard and dark clouds lurk in the horizon. I prayed hard for good weather and safety. It is very difficult to set up all the logistics, air tanks, BC, reg, blocks. It is even more difficult to get the right people on your team because they are all busy and to have a common available time is rare.

The weather cleared mid-day Saturday when we arrived at the site. After lunch and preparation of gear it was around 3:00PM for our first dive. Waves measuring more than a meter and currents strong due to the Habagat season. I was recalling, last September 2004 was my last monitoring dive in Candelaria.

First dive, we were all adjusting and the visibility less than a meter. Underwater I can actually see the particles across my mask like dust rain. Due to the strong current, I had difficulty focusing the digital camera I was able to take a few then, having diffulty with my bouyancy, I signaled to Lex that I am going back to the boat and handed him the camera. The weather did not cooperate. Still I was praying for good weather all throughout--at the pre dive we agreed if weather not good we will abort. In the boat with ka Oca after a while, Mel surfaced and we threw the blocks out to the sandy bottom. After that TJ surfaced apparently he got the "maso" from Lex when he saw the blocks, the moment he put down the "maso" he shot up. After this one transect, we were tired. We did only one and we have to do six.

Over dinner of grilled chicken and freshly made salad we were laughing at our eventful day and strategized for the next day's work. We exchanged stories of places we went, dive stories, field work stories, ngongo stories and anything under the sun after a bottle of "emperering" and Amats having amats, we called it a night.

The whole night it was raining and early morning I was constantly praying to God to grant us good weather. Amazingly, the conditions Sunday got really better. We finished two transects with one tank before lunch. I was able to do all the photodocu of the coral along the transect. TJ and Lex on the blocks and hammering away every 10 meters. Benny on LIT and Mel on FVC. It was great and visibility was really clear we saw lots of crown of thorns though and Benny even extracted one--I'll post that picture here later. We also established a new control site near Kamantigue their coral are really nice almost all of it branching Acroporas. After two dives we even have some air to spare from our tanks and were off for lunch.

After lunch and SI, we did two more transects but since then the current and tide have changed, conditions were more difficult. After the 3rd dive in the afternoon TJ and Lex were a bit cold and the last dive was on an outer edge of a reef slope. I guess it was a blessing that Mel found that Porites coral that marks the spot of the 5th site it was almost 4PM when we did the dive and it is darker underwater. Good thing it was on the reef slope at least I was able to steady myself and focus better. After the dive, going back to the boat, climbing up the banca was a big challenge my upper body very weak (my butt getting heavier by the minute hehehe).

All in all it was great work dives. I guess Benny, Lex, TJ and I made our max of 4 dives a day. Mel said they once did 8 with Ting before in Kalayaan Islands. Amazing where Mel gets his energy. Work dives are indeed tiring but very fulfilling once the job is done.

On the way back, on the boat Mel and Lex dis-assembled the gear to wind up the day's work. Then we went back to the house and we got ourselves ready to leave. In silence I was thanking God for keeping us safe.

(I'll be posting lots of pictures here about these dives.)


Honey Oliveros said...

Inggit ako!! "Work" and "dive" in the same sentence, what a dream...

- From a retired fun diver (it's not fun anymore when you're always an underwater "tourist" :-))

lex said...

had great fun volunteering for you over the weekend!

Daisy said...

Hi Honey! I hope to do some fun dives with you soon but would love to have you on our future trips :O) thanks for lending Amats your gear.

Lex! It was really great to have you the team. Wow! and of course the grilled chiken you prepared for dinner was superb :O) Salamat sobra!

Honey Oliveros said...

Work dive sabay nagluto si now I'm REALLY inggit! :-)

lex said...

haha! glad you liked it day! yup, yup. when we've fixed the new house, i'll invite you guys over and i'll cook you something.