An Aldabra Tortoise was having a chilled morning on the beach, an unusual site as they love their food – leaves, fruit, and pretty much anything else that drops from the trees – and that is what seems to drive them!
Things are taking shape in the waters here. For the past two days James and Dr Ormond have been configuring, tinkering and adjusting Save Our Seas’ new remotely operated camera unit. It looks like a small R2D2 robot and its technology is capable of similar wonders, but its assembly instructions seem to also be in star wars language. Nonetheless it is almost up and running. The friendly black tip reef sharks that patrol the shallow waters here acted as the guinea pigs this afternoon, triggering the camera’s motion sensor each time one dutifully swam past and OB1 recorded their images on a hard drive, which is viewed live on a linked computer. Once it has been fine-tuned and emits the right light intensity at night (too much and it will spook the sharks, too little and it will not detect them) it will be deployed at strategic places on the reef and in the inlet channels for 24hr periods at a time.
We initiated our search for large shark species by setting up the first of the baiting stations. Returning at 9h00 to the channel we reccied yesterday, Pass Dubois, we free-dived in search of a suitable anchorage point and soon found a large boulder-like formation of dead coral at 6m depth on the floor of the channel with a tunnel running through. Dan, James and Rainer donned their SCUBA equipment and began threading a thick chain through the tunnel, looping it around the coral bommie. The chain is attached to a rope, which is attached to a piece of perforated pvc piping that sits at about 2m and held taught by a bright red buoy a couple of feet above it. The piping is stuffed to the brim with frozen mackerel and attached to the chain are several bottles with perforated caps of tuna oil. This ripe mixture produces a chum slick, an odor corridor that spreads with the current, and any shark that gets a whiff is lead straight to us. Before any sharks found us the big potato bass did. Akin to dopey puppy dogs they did their best to get to the bait but resorted to nibbling on James’ head instead.
Two large lemon sharks between 1.5m and 2m (much larger than the ones that swim around the shallows with the black tips along the beach here) and about 6 black tip reef sharks appeared, but they were the only sharks that were drawn in. We are hoping that the word will get around and more of the larger shark species will appear. The snappers certainly can’t get enough of the tantalizing odors we produce.