Zanzibar Humpback Research: Rough Seas and Ramadhan Greetings

This season has been rougher (windier) than previous years and it’s very frustrating because it also a whale rich year. Too rough seas mean we have to stay onshore and unable to study the whales.A breaching humpback whale off the coast of Zanzibar. This week village life, as we have come to know it, has now been put on hold with the sighting of the moon and the commencement Ramadhan (Monday Aug 1st ) whereby fasting is upheld between sunrise and sunset for most people (practising Muslims) on the island. The holiday is expected to last one month and Rachael enjoyed participating in this local tradition for a grand total of two days before the flu got the better of her and she had to resume daily eatings, little and often (to Kristin’s relief), though she may fast for a few more days once she is back to full health. Acquiring our day to day food supplies now requires extra planning with one of our good friends in the village and local entrepreneur, Mwalimo, kindly meeting our pre-orders for fresh boat breakfast and bread (including the very tasty and favoured chapatis), delivered to our house by his children in the afternoons. Mwalimo's children delivering the daily bread to Lucy. Not so good news on the old fridge front as after a couple of return trips to Stone town it was finally laid to rest. It was replaced with a new working fridge, an exciting addition to the household! We are getting used to non mouldy items of food again, getting our food budget back on track and can only assume Yunusu and his family appreciates having their fridge space back. As rough seas and high winds kept us on land yesterday we spent that afternoon ‘fashioning’ small homemade Ramadhan gifts of sweet dates and spices for those close friends of the project who go above and beyond any expectations of help and kindness, on a daily basis. Today Rachael stayed home to take care of her stubborn flu, and the remaining boat crew had a rough day out on the waters. We ended up with three whale encounters and the last group was our first mother/calf/escort group for this year. Yey! They gave us some good data, entertaining breaches and head slaps, before we had to head back due to the rough weather. This season has been rougher (windier) than previous years and it’s very frustrating because it also a whale rich year. Too rough seas mean we have to stay onshore and unable to study the whales. However, we compensate this by spending more time talking to fishermen and dolphin/whale tourism operators to promote animal welfare and sustainable activities. So all in all, we are meeting our objectives. Meal of the week: Mau’s coconut rice dish, with fresh coconut from the palm tree outside our house. Heri za Ramadhan! (“Happy Ramadhan”) -- Zanzibar Humpback Whale Research Team 

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