Ulovane’s Marine Guide Course: what an eye-opening experience!!!
The first week of the Marine Guide Course is already done, we can tell that these 4 weeks will be very busy and are going to pass very quickly! After finishing the Apprentice Trails Guide course on Friday, we arrived at Paul and Jane Cowley’s house in Kleinemonde on Saturday. Paul is a retired professor that studied marine life for 30 years and his wife Jane is a politician in South Africa.
It’s a bit weird to be back in civilization, living in someone else’s house and trying to remember how to behave when you’re not in the bush. On the first day, Paul took us to Kleinemonde beach with his dog Jock to breathe a little bit before starting our course. We quickly realised the frustrations of load shedding were going to take some getting used to… We were spoiled with solar power at the Ulovane campus!
On Monday, Schalk took us on our first rocky shore to collect some samples of seaweeds and exoskeletons for identification. We also went through the Geology, Weather Climate, and Astronomy modules we had done in Fields Guide again, but this time with more of a marine perspective.
Paul took over as our teacher on Tuesday for the Coastal Environment module. We also started studying estuaries by visiting three different ones in the area. It is mind-blowing to see how the form of an estuary can create such variations in life, depending on whether they are open, closed, or temporarily closed to the ocean, influencing both the aquatic life and what plants grow around it.
On Wednesday, we headed back to Ulovane to give ARH another try, but we were a bit delayed because Greg drove over a pothole and the tyre exploded on the freeway. Thankfully, we all learned how to change a tire as part of our Field Guide training last year. Unfortunately, the spare was flat… We ended up having to call Papa Piet to the rescue, like a knight in shining armor, he brought us his tyre compressor. Despite his look of disappointment, we knew deep down he’d missed us over the last 4 days. What would we do without him?!
Once we finally made it to campus, we headed to the range. I did not succeed this time around but Forrest did and I was genuinely very happy for him. I can tell I have been out of practice because my accuracy needs a bit of work. I will get it next time!
Schalk came back on Saturday and did a little recap on the lectures he was not there for before we went to collect more samples for Sunday’s exam. By collecting samples, I mean, enjoying the beautiful Eastern Cape beaches and exploring the rock pools while we busy. Truly a beautiful part of South Africa and we are really lucky to be in such a beautiful part of South Africa!
It is interesting to learn about marine life, the way some of these plants and animals survive, or even just exist, is astonishing. There is so much variety in the way things look, some animals look like plants and others are so strange looking, they are almost impossible to describe! I’m looking forward to diving deeper into the marine course and letting this underwater universe expand my knowledge of the natural world.
Achille Thiry – Belgium
“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul.”– Wyland