4 February 2010
For the past fifteen days, diving has been the main item on the menu for Tara’s crew. Onboard, six scientists and one cameraman are busy crisscrossing the depths of the Gulf of Tadjoura and the bay of Ghoubet, to examine the fish and coral of this region blessed with such a rich biodiversity. After 5 months spent fishing for plankton, Tara has just turned herself into a diving platform, for the first coral study session of the Tara Oceans expedition.
From 7:00 on, the whole crew is busy getting ready and setting our three boats up for our first dive at 8:00. First is exploring the surface waters with fins, mask and snorkel to decide where exactly our dive should take place. Our scientists will be spending a good hour underwater – down between 6 and 30 meters – to make observations and get the samples they need. In groups of two, they SCUBA dive and follow all the recommendations for decompression (MT92).
Back on board, the data must be processed and the tanks filled, and it is only after a well deserved lunch that we head back into the deep for a second diving session. Our sustained rhythm is demanding, and for our program to be executed smoothly, divers and non-divers are asked to contribute.
We are working within a 35 nautical mile radius around Djibouti. Every day, we make our way to a new spot and the days of our sailors follow the rhythm of watch duties. Diving logistics and surface security are ensured by three sailors. Abdou, our Djiboutian native, and his launch have joined the team, and he is taking care of imaging logistics (essentially underwater imaging) for Cyril Tricot, our specialist as well as cameraman for the television show Ushuaia. From the deck, Mathieu and I are supervising the organization of the dives. When conditions allow, we help Cyril with the underwater lighting or the scientists with their sampling.
This diving session is a true success. Tara is thoroughly enjoying her new pulse, which brings throngs of underwater surprises to some and impressive sceneries to the others, what with these volcanic vestiges plunging straight into the sea. And whenever we get the chance to come across the local population, or to catch whale sharks showing off their fins, Tara Oceans and its work around the globe takes on a beautiful dimension.