Tuesday 11th November, from the Airaha 2.
While the land teams finished setting up camp, the divers took their first dive (25 to 30-meter deep) not far away. They did not find many species, but there are a few interesting specimens. Gofir and Amir found a piece of sponge which is 80 cm in diameter. It will be analysed at the university in Sorong to find out if it contains any substances potentially interesting for their therapeutic properties.
After the dive, a school of large dolphins swim past the boat, hunting fish for lunch, and jumping several metres out of the water. We see them again at nightfall. This time, they are having a rest, and all stay close together.
In the afternoon, everybody meets up at the camp to take part in the ritual ceremony where the villagers ask their ancestors for permission to let us carry out scientific studies on their lands. At the end of the ceremony, about 15 villagers are engaged as guides and porters.
The divers go back onto the Airaha 2 and enjoy the evening with a night dive which reveals a very abundant and diversifed fauna on a sandy bed : a lot of plankton, fish, cuttlefish, squid and other mollusks.
(translated by Mouthar Darmine, Audrey Diochot, and Orane Vaccari, L2 SVC–Life & Earth Sciences–UM2, France)