Marine Guides: Week 1
Adriaan is with us here at Ulovane for our one-year course. He has successfully completed both his Apprentice Field guide and Apprentice Trails guide courses and is now on the Marine guide course with his three fellow students, at the beach campus in Kenton-on-Sea in the Eastern Cape. Week one of their course got off to a ‘swimming’ start!
The first day of our course included a beach walk to get into the swing of things, and to familiarise us all with our new surroundings and ‘home’ for the next four weeks! On the walk, we looked at some shells and a variety of tracks and signs left behind on the beach landscape.
Jesse and I tried our luck at fishing and managed to catch a Stumpnose!
The next day we had our first bash at snorkelling in the sea! We had a look at marine plants and fish that we could see, identifying what we could. We also got lucky and saw some molluscs and shrimp.
Our first marine exam was written on Wednesday, so we spent most of this day preparing for it. The next day, we went out for a walk along the beach and rock pools nearby the marine house, to collect some plant and shell samples that we find on our species list, that occur locally in this area we are studying in. We also started having a look at some of the marine birds, as there are quite a lot of them, that we have to learn by the end of the course. We luckily also caught a Blacktail fish on Thursday night!
We had a phenomenal trip on the boat with Raggy Charters, in Port Elizabeth, on Friday morning! The boat trip crosses a section of Algoa Bay, and we headed out to St Croix ‘Bird Island’ where we saw a breeding colony of the endangered African Penguins. We were also lucky enough to see some Cape Fur seals, Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in their 100s, swimming right next to the boat – we even had a mother with her calf swim right near the boat!!! It was magical.
At the beginning of our weekend, we had a ‘snorkelling 101’ session with Brett, and afterwards, we studied for our Sunday exam, and then ended off our week with a braai on Sunday night.
The ocean is this beautiful, unexplored place. Why on Earth everyone isn’t down there, I don’t know. Graham Hawkes
Apprentice Field Guides
Hannah and Tim are here to bring you the adventures and happenings of their second last week of the Apprentice Field guide course!
Our week began with a remarkably interesting mammal lecture. Later that afternoon, whilst out on a game drive, we had a fascinating encounter with two males giraffes doing something referred to as ‘necking’, on Simons mock assessment drive. We also had great sightings of red hartebeest, black wildebeest and some waterbuck in picturesque settings, as you will see from the photos!
The next day we covered our ethology lecture, in which we learnt about several things, like for example how animals communicate, how they congregate, as well as how they adapt to prevent predation. It was quite beneficial as we could then link back to the giraffe ‘necking’ sighting we had the day before, as they were demonstrating tactile communication. Our afternoon drive was filled with many amazing sightings in and around a beautiful section of the reserve. We saw a coalition of two cheetahs, a herd of ellies, as well as some other wonderful game, all in the space of an hour. This drive was by far our highlight of the week!
The middle of this week saw us writing our final Amakhala Game Reserve, Standards and Operating procedures exam, which was the determining factor for us being able to guide on the reserve. On Thursday Justin took us for a tracking class which was extremely helpful. He showed us all the tracks from invertebrates to arthropods, to birds and mammals. He also gave us incredibly good advice on how the art of tracking is a whole journey and not just about identifying various tracks. This brought us to our tracking assessment on Friday where we set off at 7;30am. We did two sets of tracks on the Ulovane property which was filled with great knowledge from Justin and Melissa. We had some very extraordinary tracks such as porcupine, brown hyena, lion and a monitor lizard, the signs we saw also included dung of multiple animals and the burrows they live in. This tracking assessment taught us a lot about ourselves and that we should always trust our instincts and gut feeling. Through all the tracks and sings that we went through that day we finally got the results of our days’ work. Three of us achieved the equivalent to a level one tracking qualification including both the authors of this blog. A few of the group came really close to this as well!
We ended our week with some of us bush clearing a bush encroacher known as ‘blue bush’ and some of us tending to the vegetable garden.
Tim: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time learning at Ulovane and I’m so excited to start my Apprentice Trails course in September.
Hannah: My time at Ulovane has been unreal so far. It is unbelievable how much I have learnt about nature and about myself. My true passion for nature is shining through each and every day. I am so excited for the journey to come and to continue learning and growing.
“None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” – Mother Teresa