Reef inventory and mapping in Glorieuses Islands

Biorech scientific missions with the Antsiva sailboat

Location: Les Glorieuses

Conducted in 2012

Mission: BioReCie 2

Expedition Leader : Pascale CHABANET - IRD Réunion

In spite of the creams, the skin is burned, the price to be paid to touch with foot these lost lands and so beautiful that are the scattered islands.
This name is strange. Who decided to name these pieces of planet lost in the Mozambique Channel?
They are distant, inaccessible, forbidden. We measure the chance to be there tonight. To the Glorious ... I think of Jacques Brel and the Marquesas ...
We prepare the dive and Plouf, as always in scattered, the unexpected shows: bench hump parrots.
Thierry is my free electron. Usually it's Chloe, little thought for her ...
Last dive on the "Dune". We were limited to 30m, blue for your eyes .... A huge tuna dog teeth a barracuda but definitely not and still no sharks.
One regains the edge and tranquility of Antsiva who begins to pull on his leash; it feels the sea, these boats ... It shivers at night, when the day before the wind rises, it is 2am, it settles at 20 knots, he screams and wakes us up. The call of the sea, the wind that sings and plays us its melody of escape.
I write as I live since this morning, bent over. Antsiva is sailing under sail. How beautiful is this great runner! We advance to 7 or 8 knots, 70 tons flirt on the ocean.

Wednesday December 5th

At 4 pm, everyone is on board, the equipment is well anchored, Antsiva drops off her moorings.
Organizing a mission is always a difficult and difficult task. This one was more particularly and it is with a certain relief that Pascale puts down her bag on board and blows a big blow to evacuate the stress of these last weeks. But already the hills of Nosy Be begin to fade and tomorrow we will be at the Glorious! As we do not change a team that wins, all participants are already familiar with the boat and everyone quickly takes its marks and its cabins: the boys in the front, the girls in the back.
Chloe, prevented by an ugly phlebitis misses the call and we think strongly about her. The night looks sweet and quiet. Antsiva moves away to the motor of Malagasy coasts. First drink on board and first dinner under the stars.

Thursday 6th December

In the early morning, the sea is formed and the second part of the navigation malmens somewhat the most fragile stomachs. But, already the island is outlined on the horizon and at 14:30, we cast anchor in the turquoise waters of the Glorious. Blue, blue, nothing but blue around us. This arrival is still beautiful!
We immediately contact the military to complete the formalities. The whole team goes down to the ground. Joseph, Nicky and Maya start installing their lab as they will be staying and working at the station for the duration of the mission.
In the evening, the team gets together for dinner and overnight aboard Antsiva.

Friday, December 7

The night was windy and agitated. The two appendages banged on the stern of the boat and in a maneuver, our sailor Said fell to the bottom of the dive boat seriously injuring himself.
In the morning, Saïd always suffers as much and Nico accompanies him on the ground to see the nurse of the base. Diagnosis: broken collarbone. It's the guigne !!!
Antsiva will be forced to disembark the team of scientists and make a round trip as quickly as possible to Nosy Be to drop Said who needs medical care.
At 10 am, scientists and luggage are on the ground. Antsiva resumes the sea. The very helpful servicemen actively participate in handling and tractor transport.
All the team will work on the platiers in PMT and will be housed at the military station while awaiting the return of Antsiva.

Saturday, December 8

After a stormy navigation but without incident, we arrive in the early morning at Crater. Just the time to put Saïd in a taxi to the hospital and we immediately resume the sea for a return on the Glorious. We hope to arrive the next morning so that the team of divers can do its first work diving.

Sunday, December 9

At 5 o'clock in the morning we are in sight of the Glorious. We immediately call the military base to warn the scientists of our return and so they can better organize their day.
Everyone is already standing because they planned to go to work on the flats taking advantage of a low tide early morning. At the announcement of our arrival, change of program for the divers who return on board immediately and will make two dives on the two nearest stations of the pier.
We are happy to be back among them!
During our two days of absence, we were however reassured by the good agreement that immediately settled between the team of scientists and the military. Indeed, the latter did not just host Plume and his team on their base, they also went to great lengths and did everything possible to facilitate the work of scientists and assist them in their best, especially in all areas. manipulations and transport of equipment and people .. And then in the evening, after a busy day of work, everyone could meet for a game of petanque or a glass of beer around the barbecue dinner!
Joseph, meanwhile, began his night patrols in search of coconut crabs. He is convinced of the presence of these crustaceans on the island and must therefore find some specimens. The gendarme or adjutant accompanies him during his rounds because it is easy to get lost in this huge coconut grove. He also prepared a teaching poster for the military explaining why the crab should be protected.

Monday, December 10

This morning and like every morning that will follow, we recover Lydiane and Helen on the beach. They embark aboard Antsiva and we leave towards the south-east of the island where the team of divers wish to make two stations.
The two girls have a busy schedule because they are divided between the dives of the day and the evening work with their duo remained on the ground. We ship them every morning and disembark them in the afternoon so that they bring to the laboratory the samples collected by diving, samples that will be processed the same evening. Very kindly, the adjutant proposes the tractor to convey them with their equipment.
That night, Joseph's research was successful as he found his first coconut crab. Yeeessss! It is watered !!!!

Tuesday, December 11

Early departure for Antsiva because the two stations located in the North East of the island are at a good two hours of navigation and it is necessary to be back soon enough to leave the girls.
In the late afternoon, the team of divers goes down on the island and we accompany them willingly.
While Martine and Patrick walk the beach and visit the small cemetery, we accompany Lionel and Thierry who join the camp. The first to recover alcohol and jars sampling, the second his toothbrush forgot! No comment ...
After twenty minutes of pleasant walk in the shade of the beautiful coconut grove, we arrive at the station. We take the opportunity to visit the lab where we find Nicky, Maya, Lydiane, Helen and Joseph at work. Joseph shows us the pictures of his coconut crab. Wow, how beautiful he is!
Three small Picot beds equipped with a mosquito net are installed under the Filaos. It is under the stars that sleep Nicky, Maya and Joseph. Lydiane and Hélène preferred to stay in the room with toilets. As it is also where the water reserves are stored, they sleep under impressive mountains of bottled water.
A beer and a game of petanque later, the sun is already low on the horizon and it is time for the "sailors" to join the edge.
In the evening, Patrick and Thierry test their light trap. It is a luminous trap that is placed at night at the bottom of the water and is supposed to attract all the larvae. This is a first experience on the Glorious.
Oops! Patrick forgot to secure the light trap. It is good for a small night dive to recover his equipment.
At nightfall, in the light of the device, the underwater life intensifies and we observe great shadows go under the boat, some of which strongly resemble those of big sharks. We are all fascinated by this amazing spectacle, this incessant ballet of forms that gives free rein to the imagination. Even the cat is at the rail scrutinizing with interest these nocturnal movements. Patrick retains some chills while thinking about his last dive.
But tonight, the show is everywhere. Looking up, we can admire a beautiful night. A moonless, cloudless night or only millions of stars twinkle. A peaceful night where we could well keep our eyes up until the early morning.
But the night does not belong only to the dreamers! She also seems to belong more prosaically to the indefatigable crab hunter. And yes, congratulations Joseph, 2 new specimens will be found on this beautiful moonless night.

Wednesday, December 12

In the early morning, suspense, we go back the light trap. Patrick and Thierry do not believe their eyes. The night harvest exceeds all their expectations: hundreds of larvae swarm at the bottom of the bowl. Thierry hastens to lock them in alcohol. Back in the meeting, Patrick will study them one by one, identify them and count them.

Today, it is expected that scientists and military will visit the island of Lys aboard Antsiva.
At 7 am embarkation of the team of "earthlings" and a detachment of eight soldiers. These, in addition to their package, load a large tarpaulin for sleeping and food for two days. Once disembarked on the small island, their work will consist in making a statement of the inventory of fixtures and especially a great cleaning.

While the divers make their first dive, Nicky, Joseph and Maya go down to make a first search on the island.
Terns have nidified and the presence of thousands of chicks makes walking difficult: it is almost impossible to penetrate the interior of the island. The team finds remains of poaching fishermen's camp. Old rotten mattresses, a rusty freezer, soda cans and even untouched bananas litter the ground. According to the labels of drinks, we imagine that they are Comorians. Nicky is disgusted by the dirtiness of the place.
Meanwhile, aboard Antsiva, the soldiers enjoy a moment of relaxation to swim in crystal clear water on a sandy bottom.
At noon, everyone is on board for a big convivial lunch and the 20 guests are hugging a little around the cockpit. Around 14 hours, we land the 8 soldiers on the island. They install the large tarpaulin that will serve as shelter for sleeping but also shelter against the sun because attention on the island of Lys, the shadow is rare.
At high tide, the divers go on a third dive on the blue hole of flat, site particularly rich in small fishes.
On board Antsiva, a mini lab is organized: Nicky installs his binocular microscope and Maya his drying bins and seagrass beds.
In the evening, Joseph and Patrick decide to spend the night on the ground with the military. The island of Lys could also be called the crab island as there are many! This is the paradise for Joseph who obviously can not miss the opportunity of a sleepless night stalking!
The rest of the team stays on board for a quiet evening.

Thursday, December 13th

A short and eventful night for those who stayed on the ground. "Fucking sparrows" swear the military. Indeed, chicks, terns and crabs took turns relentlessly climbing on the sleepers and squealing in their ears all night.
At 7 o'clock in the morning, the low tide does not wait. Everyone goes down to the ground for work on the flats. Big black fumes rise in the sky. The military burns the garbage. At noon, the team meets again on board for lunch. Joseph, tired by a sleepless night and burned by a pitiless sun, tries to rest. So, the island of Lys, hell or paradise?
Hell probably for soldiers who re-embark visibly exhausted by their expedition. "Fucking sparrows ..." will remain a swear in the anal of the island!
The evening on board is sprinkled with rum that bangs Bologna. And hop ! Everyone in bed at 9am

Friday, December 14

In the morning, we enjoy an hour of free to go down to stretch our legs on the beach. But we do not stay far from the boat because the first grains are on the horizon Glorious. We can only admire this fabulous shock of colors, this unreal contrast between the turquoise blue of the lagoon reflected in the gray of the rain-laden sky.
Tonight at the station is the birthday of a 23 year old. Antsiva prepares a cake for the occasion. The atmosphere is at the party and the 5 scientists stayed on the ground participate. Of course, Maya is not always in unison with that straightforward masculine, typically military, camaraderie, but she looks good.
Aboard Antsiva, at nightfall, guests not really welcome invite themselves during the whole evening. These are hundreds and hundreds of flying ants that invade the space, stick to everything and fall into the food. To try to limit their coming, we dine by candlelight.
The evening continues at the front of the boat where the team meets to observe the shooting stars and the sky once again magnificent.
The night was a little more hectic and we suffered the first big grain at anchor. Wind, rain, thunder and lightning remind us that we are in a hurricane.

Saturday December 15th

This morning, a persistent wind is delaying the schedule. Finally, at 9 o'clock, the two annexes can leave towards Green Rocks. On board, the entire team will perform an exploration on land and on the flat.
Martine who officiates as a dinghy woman on the second annex returns somewhat cooked by the sun of his expedition.
A new lunch brings the whole team aboard Antsiva. Then, while the divers are getting ready, the "earthlings" return to the base. I take this opportunity to make a small walk on the ground, on trails that walk in the shade of coconut trees.

Sunday, December 16th

This morning, Patrick and Thierry raise for the second time their light trap. The new crop is just as good. At first sight, there are a few fewer larvae but a larger number of species.
A small part of the team returns to the Green Rocks to do their last work on the flats. Hélène and Lydiane remain quietly on board. They have some comics to finish!
In the late morning, a dive is planned on the drop behind the boat. Last dive and this time without work, counting or collection objective.
The afternoon is devoted to the storage of the lab and ballads on the ground.
The entire team is invited for a big BBQ party at the resort. To decorate and especially to vary the daily meat of the soldiers, Antsiva brings some nets of mackerel.
We stay on board to watch the boat. The grains are multiplying and the night is particularly windy.
For his last stalking night, Joseph is happy, he found a female crab with eggs. The reproduction of coconut crab on the island of Glorieuses is assured.

Monday December 17th

7 am, it's the last rotation of the tractor that brings the whole team back on board.
It's raining on the Glorious. The time to admire the reflection of the lagoon one last time in the clouds and Antsiva raises the anchor.
Offshore, we can see two boats rushing along. We inform the military. These are certainly fishermen who come poaching on the island of Lys. A rotation of the Transal scheduled for today will fly over the area and confirm this fact.
But soon, our eyes are attracted by other sheaves of foam: a bench of pilot whales came to greet our departure and wish us good wind. So, hoist and high seaman, we put the sails and cap on Nosy Be! This navigation will be decidedly rich in meetings: two very late whales and especially a bench of killer whales will cross our wake. Not to mention the swordfish that comes to take our line ...

Tuesday 18 December

Arrival in the early morning at anchor crater. It's time for storage, baggage and flights to confirm. Whatever the airline, planes still have a hard time keeping their schedules on Madagascar. And our 10 travelers all see their departure delayed by several hours.
We must take his trouble. The morning is devoted to the visit of the city and the various small races. A last lunch on board to eat swordfish from the day before and it's time for our shock team to leave the edge, the time of goodbye and promises to come back.
Yes, we were good with you and the boat suddenly seems empty once your mountain of luggage landed!

A big thank you to all of you for sharing with us your good mood and some of your passion.
A special thank you to Plume for having the tenacity to go all the way and to have, against all odds, managed to carry out this mission.

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