SASKIA SCHMOLE: OCEAN LOVE
When you are a volunteer with LAMAVE, you spent a lot of time in the ocean. I choose to spend most of my free time with things that have to do with the ocean as well. During my in-water sessions, I could not help but pay attention to everything that swims and moves under water.
During a snorkel at Sumilon Island, with the other volunteers, I discovered a strange looking fish. I spent at least 10 minutes with it, following it and trying to get a good picture of it. Because I have not been snorkeling often before I started working with LAMAVE, every fish to me was fascinating, but that one really got my attention.
When we came back from our trip I showed the picture to another volunteer and he identified the fish for me. From that day on, I started to try to get good and identifiable pictures of fish that I saw in the water. I started to spend my afternoons identifying them and bought a little scrapbook to draw the fish I saw. I also gathered some information on the different fish species and learned more about their habitat, diet, and behavior.
After a month I discovered a little family of clownfish, that live in the tiniest piece of anemone, surrounded only by seagrass. They were saddleback clownfish, which are aggressively territorial but so cute at the same time!
During almost every session that I had, I visited my little family which consisted of one big female, one slightly smaller male, and several smaller family members. For me, these fish are the bravest in the ocean, as they swim up to bigger fish and even to me in a really aggressive way and look like they are going to fight me if I don’t go away (which they most certainly would!).
There is so much to discover in the underwater world, and although you might not see a fascinating fish every day, every single session in the water is different and if you pay attention to what surrounds you (and if you‘re a bit lucky) you might find as amazing things as a spotted eagle ray, which suddenly appears out of nowhere while you are looking for a turtle, or an octopus which you discover because there is a piece of coral, which doesn’t quiet look like coral and you decide to dive down even though it might be nothing.
I learned a lot about identifying fish and about different fish species during my time here and still had time for long dog walks up the hill, getting my open water diving license, during which I saw even more fascinating things, and of course enjoying the beautiful sunsets! You can also spend an afternoon snorkeling with blacktip reef sharks, which are very skittish animals but even seeing them for only a brief moment is enough to make me smile the whole day.
So always keep an eye in the water. You never know what strange, fascinating or cute creature might pop up next to you!
The 4 ½ months I spent with LAMAVE were some of the best months of my life and leaving is incredibly hard, after bonding so much with a place, the people and the underwater world!
Saskia is from Germany and is currently a student of Coast and Marine Management at Van Hall Larenstein Hogeschool, in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. She is passionate about ocean life and seeks to learn about it as much as it is possible.
If you are interested in volunteering with LAMAVE, follow us on social media or check VOLUNTEER section.