We started the week off with much anticipation and excitement for all the field trips we were about to embark on, and hopefully many encounters with our beloved manta rays. The week really started off the crazy for the whole team, Monday was manic and fabulous from beginning to end. We had a small lie in which is rare with field trip days. Once we set sail we saw mantas everywhere, cruising, barrel rolling, breaching and our favourite feeding in feeding chains. Everyone was in and out of the water so fast collecting ID photos whilst one member of the team remained on the boat noting every sighting, breach, ID taken and GPS points. The frenzy of manta fun lasted a good 4 hours, with a few close encounters of the hungry whale sharks, which feed on the plankton.
Tuesday 15th August
Today we were not blessed with a lie in and were raring to go despite lack of sleep. Once again, we were blessed with more mantas, not quite as friendly as yesterdays. We ensured we took the various environmental data: CTD (conductivity, temperature and depth), and GPS location throughout the day, with particular attention to taking readings in the areas where mantas were present, and areas were the mantas were absent. Time goes so quickly on field trips with manta rays, so we ran out of time to deploy the “Manta Trawl” tow device, which sieves the water for micro-plastics. We were lucky enough to have Captain Abel and his crew with us who are very enthusiastic about the project and assisted us with spotting any mantas.
Wednesday 16th August
Today marked the last field trip of the season for the project. As always with nature you can never predict what you will find. Today there was no visible action of our beloved manta rays, or any dolphins and very few whale sharks. We had our friend Valentina on the boat hoping to get some footage of the mantas, instead she took some great footage of all of our data collection with the CTD, GPS (via the boats GPS), and manta trawl. As this was the last boat trip for the team even though we saw no mantas we all enjoyed the time we had out on the boat cruising over the waves. Wednesday was the more peaceful of days of the field trips.
With the final field trip completed, the team indulged in vegan, vegetarian, chicken and beef burgers at our favourite burger bar, Nash’s. Having many different dietary requirements within the team, we all enjoy restaurants and bars that we can all enjoy a delicious meal together.
Thursday 17th August
We had a rather relaxed morning and slept off the past few days. After a slow morning we all began to do our weekly tasks such as updating our progress on social media, writing the weekly blog, and constructing maps using GIS and graphs using Tableau ready for the final report.
Today we had to say farewell to our amazing enthusiastic project leader Manza. Manza had to leave the island to work on the many other projects she is involved in. Mexico Caribbean Manta project would not exist without her, and all the manta rays in the Mexico Caribbean thank her!
Friday 18th August
Today the team was treated to a much-needed day off. The majority of the team spent their morning doing a shipwreck and drift SCUBA dive. Fun was had by all as this was probably the last chance for everyone to dive on the island. Melissa in the afternoon gained her PADI open water SCUBA qualification with Claire Hernandez from Mexico Divers.
The evening began with a sunset swim, with the breath-taking views we are spoiled with. We all enjoyed our final night with Adrielli, one of the volunteers, who was continuing on to Holboch before heading back to brazil. Isla Mujeres Festival was taking place in the square, so we all enjoyed listening to some Mexican singers and salsa dancing.