Prison Island - Dustbunnies and Nemo's evil twins

So – a fourth of the work is now over and done!
Our first site was Prison Island, or Changuu Island as the locals know it by. It’s an island right outside of Stone Town, where peacocks call their lonely cries and mating tortoises can be heard like modern day dinosaurs. Most of our traps were empty, which was expected, but still slightly disappointing. While Elisa occupied herself exploring transect lines, I spent the time snorkeling and taking pictures of all sorts of interesting animals.
Among all the weird things I saw, this was one of the most fascinating. These are apparently a couple of porcelain crabs living inside an anemone, sharing their home with a tiny clownfish. The clownfish here are nothing like Nemo, trust me. They’re quite fierce, despite their size. Contrary to what you might think, that they hide inside their protective anemone, they swim up to you and sort of grind their teeth at you. You can actually hear their mouths slam shut, with a loud CLOP! One of them decided to attack the camera, so I left them alone after a while. But yeah, Nemo’s scared dad – not so much.

At one point, I got a little bit too excited over seeing a bright yellow butterfly fish, and accidently swam into – yes, swam – one of these sea urchins. Since some of their spines are about the size of my arm, I was quite thankful for the wetsuit. Still hurt, but didn’t leave any mark. Won’t do that again.


This was one of my absolute favourites at Prison Island, a tiny boxfish that managed to get caught in one of our traps. It’s so incredibly cute and really box-shaped (hence the name). 

When we only had a couple of days left, I decided that it was time to live up to my reputation and get my dose of tropical infections. Wohoo! Now I have an ear infection, which is pretty easy to get here when you’re always in the water and it’s hot and humid on land (rainy season). So, now I’m ordered to stay out of the water for the next week. Fortunately, we only had the last few days on Prison Island left and now we have to wait for the next neap tide until we can go to the next site anyway. Spent my time on the boat learning all the fish (samaki) in Kiswahili instead, much to the amusement of our boat guy.

The weather varies so much here, in the morning the sky can be a leaden grey and you hear the omniscient sound of approaching thunder. Which either means you’ll be soaked in a few minutes, or that the sun will come out and shine as if nothing happened. Both are just as likely, which makes planning difficult. Will spend the next week preparing for site #2 and keeping my ears dry. Maybe I’ll be able to hear what people are asking me soon, otherwise communication might become difficult. 


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