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Punta Gruesa Quarterly

Solar and wind generated power had

S eptember 4th, 2009 marks the

come to PG, but had not been
distributed to all points of base. EMs
were able to see this change having
end of 093, a phase that will be electricity 24/7. Another
remembered for having a full team of improvement this phase was the
Expedition Members (EMs), with 26 building of a staircase leading to the
on base, the best diving weather and staff quarters, freeing up a ladder that
the highest number of former EMs was the only option to reach the 2nd
coming back to do another expedition, floor for a year and a half. Now that
again as EMs or part of the staff. The they’re there, it’s difficult to imagine
summer phases bring many situations how we faired without them. It was in
to consider. It is hurricane season and this light of major changes to base
the frame of mind inside and out of that EMs arrived at the end of June.
base is “Will there be one this year?”; The ranks of this group included 6
“Will it hit here?” We are happy to interns here for 20 weeks (10 on base,
report that this season didn’t even 10 in a dive shop), 1 intern being the
bring a considerable tropical storm. last of a 10 week stay/3 weeks in a
For the most part there were windless dive shop/7 weeks in our sister base,
days and flat seas, especially on the Pez Maya, 1 intern finishing her 20
day of the second anniversary of weeks, 2 Mexicans taking turns doing
hurricane Dean, but we are getting the National Scholarship Programme
ahead of ourselves with the many (NSP), the 1st 5 weeks we had a very
stories, so we’ll start again from the experienced scuba instructor
beginning. reminiscent of his diving days and the
2nd five weeks we had a repeat
offender who was here back in the
========================== 084 phase.
EMs’ nationalities included British, who finished 6th grade. Our
American, Canadian, Malay, programme coordinator was invited
Mauritian, Danish, Ecuadorian, to sit at the special guests table to
Scottish and Austrian. Very handout awards and certificates. EMs
internationally hip! heard straight from the headmaster
how important the work GVI did in
The induction period, usually 2 weeks, school was much appreciated and how
went as usual. Everyone getting into there was expectation for the next
the routine with duties in the morning school year. Just before the ceremony
(cooking in kitchen , boats, cleaning ended, our community coordinator
communal areas and the grounds), took the microphone to advertise the
then diving, doing some coral and fish English classes and the summer
on land and in the water followed by workshop that we organized once
computer assessments, completion of again for the children of Mahahual,
the advanced open water course both beginning a week later in our
(AOW) for some and fun under the alternate facility when school is out:
sun for all. By week 3 people had not Tequila beach.
only settled in well, but data collection
began with the most proficient EMs.
Baruch Figueroa, the newly named
liaison between our main partners
Amigos de Sian Ka’an (ASK) and GVI
was here for a couple of days to see
how the new training was coming
along. By reducing the number of fish
and coral the species to be learned,
monitoring can start sooner.

Canada day and US’s Independence The

day were celebrated on base, although
our first party night was held in town.
All 35 people, EMs and staff, took
Mahahual by storm and showed the
locals that we work hard and play
harder. This was an introduction to all
to the Mahahual community. This
phase, the community work part of
the expedition has been again very
productive. It all began with an
invitation by the headmaster of the

primary school to attend the 

graduation ceremony for the students
The attendance for the 6 weeks the
programme lasted was, sorry to say,
not as high as expected. Trying to
come up with an explanation for this
is not difficult given the current world
economic crisis, and add to this the
vacation period, plus the reduction in
number of cruise ship that docked in
Mahahual, families fled town to find
better economic opportunities or a
place to hide away for the summer.
Either way, we all had fun with the Almost

kids and adults who did show up for 

both of our activities. And if this 

wasn’t enough, a 2nd mural was In terms of sightings in the sea we had
painted in the primary school. Our our usual friends come visit.
scholar Stephanie Hovey, who was Dolphins, spotted eagle rays, turtles
here as an EM during 081 phase, (green, hawksbill and loggerhead) and
painted a mural with a sea theme. sharks (nurse, but still sharks!). We
This time, the mangroves were the also spotted the first lionfishes at our
topic, giving color and life to the dive sites, and caught one right on our
school walls. It was unveiled the first beaches. These beautiful fishes,
day of school in front of all the popular in the aquarium trade, are
students who clapped, cheered and hazardous not only to humans
hugged our talented painter. This because of their poisonous spines that
event was a highlight of the phase, cover their body, but they are
leaving GVI’s mark in the school and voracious predators and reproduce
the town for generations to come. very quickly and this can harm the
habitat where they breed. Since its
introduction to the north Atlantic and
spreading to these Caribbean waters,
there is a genuine concern of throwing
the balance off this threatened yet still
stable habitat. Without a predator to
keep its population in check, the call
is for man to help out (oh, oh, might
make matters worse!). The mission is
to try to catch the ones we see or take
note of where, when and report them,
Just starting! trying to keep track of its numbers

and then try to control the population
or eradicate it. Keep you posted.


 The 5 week mark came very quickly,

and with it, the changeover of EMs

 with 6 going home and 6 arriving. The
Our EMs were always very happy
new EMs were very eager to start
here, but that didn’t prevent them
monitoring. By day one almost all of
from taking off for the day or longer.
them had passed the computer
Hotspots this phase: Tulum (ruins,
assessment and were getting 100%
cenote ruins), Bacalar (its lake and
accuracy identifying species in the
fort), Contoy island to see whale
water. By week 8 they were
sharks, Cozumel for diving, and
monitoring. Wow! Kudos to those go
Xcalak to see tarpons. For this dive we
getters. The weather did help and
had 2 EMs doing their internship with
stayed in our favor. Flat, calm seas
XTC diving, and lead the dives as DMs
and windless days brought plenty of
in training. They made us proud and
diving, and with them, plenty of
the dive was amazing.
mosquitoes, horse flies (a.k.a. bastard
flies) and sand flies, but paradise can’t
be all perfect! Also part of the package
this phase was problem solving..

Our other extra curricular activities

continued. The Friday morning beach
clean, and birding every morning,
except Saturdays when we sleep in
and let the birds spot each other.

In the science front, we are proud of

our accomplishments. At the
 divers beginning of the phase GVI Punta

 Gruesa was represented by our base
manager in the 5th international All good things must come to an end.
congress of coral reefs, held in Like this phase, like this report. For
Tuxpan, Veracruz. The scientific the record: people from all walks of
community was informed of our life have come to lead a simple
humble achievements and findings lifestyle with little impact to the
using the fish data collected in 2008 environment and doing something
in a poster session. Our sister base, worthwhile for the Caribbean sea and
Pez Maya, also represented with their the little community of Mahahual. We
coral data. In terms of monitoring, all don’t know if change will come soon
our sites were done by week 8, so we to the way things are done here or on
had the opportunity to explore other the rest of our planet in terms of
sites, collect data from those sites, balancing development,
and also help Project AWARE with sustainability, fairness and equality to
their coral watch program using the the local inhabitants. We hope for it,
coral health chart they have and we try doing our part. 5 weeks. 10
development and made available to weeks. 20 weeks at a time. If you
anyone who would like to get involved haven’t tried yet, you’re missing out.
in a rapid assessment of coral reefs Try it. You’ll like it.
around the globe, as we have gotten
very involved with everything we
possibly can surrounding the oceans.

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