Lou Huskin: LIVING IN A LAND OF COCONUTS, RAINBOWS AND UNICORN GLITTER
WANTED: Volunteers to live and work in the Philippines, studying sharks on a remote tropical island and generally living in a land of coconuts, rainbows, and unicorn glitter
Erm… where do I sign?
Before joining the BRUV team I could count my total number of elasmobranch encounters on one hand. I’d seen a couple of eagle rays whilst diving (me not them, that would have been cool), literally stuck my head in the water with two baby lemon sharks and nearly stood on blue-spotted fantail Ray. Not the most inspiring repertoire that’s for sure. Happily, our trips to Apo Reef have given my remaining digits a renewed sense of purpose. Seeing a whitetip reef shark casually swim by whilst snorkelling was incredible, and I’m overly attached to the blacktip pups we’ve identified in the mangrove lagoon – although less so with the chance of standing on a stingray – but by far and away my favourite encounter was with two Spotted Eagle Rays who honoured us with a close-range fly-by in near perfect visibility. And somehow all of this is work?!
LAMAVE is a lot about the sharks, but like any other volunteer will tell you, it’s not all about them. The Philippines is a beautiful place, and where we are based in Occidental Mindoro is small enough to get a sense of community. The people here are genuinely some of the friendliest I’ve ever met, and I can’t not mention my two lolas (Grandmothers) whom I visit for fresh coconut milk on an almost daily basis and who ply me with fried banana in return. The food is delicious, and having volunteers with an array of culinary specialties means dinner is always a treat. There are long hours at a computer involved too – I probably ought to mention that at some point – but I don’t think you’ll find many people who can successfully argue that watching videos of a pristine reef system or beautiful little sharks qualifies as a “hard day at the office”.
And if you’re waiting for the “but…” there isn’t really one. If you’re as painfully British as I am pack tea, lots of it, and if you don’t enjoy chili, learn fast, that’s pretty much all the advice I can give. A life of coconuts rainbows and unicorn glitter has a way of winning you over pretty quickly.
Lou Hoskin, has a BSc in Marine Geography from Cardiff University in the UK. Originally from Birmingham, Lou chose Marine Conservation as a good excuse to leave (her words not ours!). Since arriving in the Philippines she believes that she has provided a tasty meal for every mosquito in the country – you can thank her later – just don’t get Dengue Lou!
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