Living and loving the simple life

I’ve learned to love this basic life we have on Apo Island. Waking up to dog barks and rooster calls at 6am and just sitting by the balcony enjoying the morning view with my cup of coffee and bread. Watching the team rushing to change into their research outfit and heading out for the first morning session at 7am. It’s always a joy to watch and identify the turtles in the water. Observing their cute actions and the interactions between them and occasionally getting annoyed at skittish turtles that just wouldn’t show us their left side (crucial for photo identification!).  

I can still remember clearly that the first day I went for a practice swim with MJ and as I watched her free dive, I thought to myself that I would never be able to do that. Needless to say, I struggled taking the photos of the turtles too, having to spend either more than a few minutes with the turtle or taking only the body of the turtle. But now, after 3 months of practice, I can confidently say that taking photos of turtles and freediving are no longer difficult. 

 Theresa looks out towards Apo Island, during a day off.

Theresa looks out towards Apo Island, during a day off.

 Theresa going in for an ID. Turtles can be incredibly camouflaged to their surroundings!

Theresa going in for an ID. Turtles can be incredibly camouflaged to their surroundings!

Meals on Apo are simple. Without electricity (and without a refrigerator), vegetables are our main ingredients. There is lots of experimenting done in the kitchen with our basic condiments and ingredients but meals are always awesome nonetheless!

As a project, we try to practice environmentally friendly habits by reducing our plastic use, saying no to straws when eating out and always bringing our own bags when we go to the market. These are some little habits that everyone should adopt because your little actions can definitely help the environment in the long run.

Lastly, being on Apo Island for 3 months has made me appreciated little things that I took for granted. For example, the occasional electricity during the day which makes everyone in the house shout “Electricity!” and you’ll see people scrambling around trying to charge their phones and laptops (usually electricity is only available 6-10pm). The amazing sunsets every evening where the whole team will sit by the balcony and leave all our work behind and enjoy. The cold fruit shakes and ice candies that we look forward to everyday when the weather was burning hot - and of course comes the disappointment when we realise that they are closed. And also the luxury of running water back at home because occasionally you’ll find out that there’s no more seawater for flushing and you are stuck in the toilet.

Neo Shi Hui Theresa is one of LAMAVE 2018 volunteers studying the turtles of Apo Island. Originally from Singapore she recently graduated from National University of Singapore with a bachelor degree in Life Sciences.  Aside from the ocean another passion, Theresa’s says “I really love doing makeup back at home and being on Apo Island for 3 months is the longest I’ve been without makeup in a couple of years!”

If your interested in becoming a LAMAVE volunteer, check out www.lamave.org/volunteer

 Theresa fourth from left with the rest of the LAMAVE Apo Island Research Team.

Theresa fourth from left with the rest of the LAMAVE Apo Island Research Team.