Meet Monda Costa… She is one of a team of community members working with marine conservation NGO Blue Ventures to save sea grass habitats on Ataúro Island in Timor-Leste.
Seagrasses are flowering plants that form meadows in shallow waters. These meadows are ecological superstars. Protecting them is a priority in Timor-Leste, but scientists, community members and decision-makers need more information about the location, composition and use of existing seagrass beds. Community members like Monda are embracing the opportunity to work with Blue Ventures to conserve these habitats.
On a bright quiet morning last May, a boat and its captain rested patiently on the tropical seas around Ataúro Island in Timor-Leste. A reflection of the island’s rugged coastline glimmered on the water’s glasslike surface as three orange buoys glided silently along, marking the presence of scuba divers from conservation NGO Blue Ventures. As the captain monitored the seas, the divers explored Watu Aii, a sloping reef with a dense flourish of colorful corals and lively fish.
It seemed a sleepy morning, until a riot of hoots and hollers erupted near one of the buoys. One voice rose above the others shouting, “Mola mola! Mola mola!”
This is the beginning of a story I wrote for Blue Ventures after spending six weeks as a volunteer in Timor-Leste. Amos’ family has relied on the sea for their food and livelihood for generations, but he believes they must now look to a new future. To continue reading about his journey of becoming a scuba diver and conservation advocate, please visit the Blue Ventures’ blog.
February 7, 2017
Half Moon Bay, Akumal, Mexico
Oh boy, I love a good squid squadron. What a lucky day!
I am floating in the bay under the late afternoon sun, and the quartet has just spotted me. They form a line; tentacles tightly clamped and pointed forward and fins undulating like silent hovercraft engines. The creatures are expertly cloaked in seaweed brown. They assess me with round opalescent eyes and adjust their formation as my position changes slightly with the moving tide. Continue reading →
Divers Log #146 24 April 2016
Dauin, Island of Negros, Philippines
The creature was ablaze. Waves of violet, cream and ebony fired along its armored back as it lumbered across the ocean floor like a miniature triceratops. Three pairs of arms stretched and swayed from its mantle in hypnotic motion. We hovered nearby in practiced stillness, anchored only by the tip of a muck stick and the lip of a fin. The sound of our slow steady exhalations bubbled rhythmically upward. Indifferent to our presence, it extended an extraordinarily long, skinny tongue with the controlled skill of a patient hunter. It paused, and with the quickest twitch, snatched a microscopic snack out of the surrounding water.
I looked at my guide and scuba instructor Tim in delighted surprise. He nodded as if to say, “Look who’s come to your party!”
As we continued watching, an errant crab startled our little cuttlefish, and in a flash, its brilliant undulations disappeared. For a moment it stood in a cloak of ghostly white…
I sat, eyes closed, surreptitiously breathing in one nostril and out the other, an exercise resurrected from a long-rusted yoga practice. The pilot of the small motorboat sped toward Batu Bolong, a rocky pinnacle in the Flores Sea that had been described moments before by our dive guide M. as “the most dangerous and the most beautiful dive site in Komodo National Park.” My gut was as uneasy as the sea. Continue reading →
It is winter in New York City. Oh, I know, that flirty temptress Spring lifted her skirts a bit a few days ago, but the City was very recently besieged by benumbing temperatures and snow and is once again shivering under a rainy grey pall. I am, however, finding ways to cope, like happy hour, because no matter the weather, you can always find a good cocktail in this great sodden metropolis. Just the other day, I sat at LIC-favorite Dutch Kills, enjoying daiquiri-induced day dreams about fun times on hot, sun-soaked islands… like Malapascua in the Philippines. Continue reading →