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Day 54

Cort P

My first plane leaves Dar Es Salaam at 11:00 tonight (Africa time). It is a 9 hour flight.

I will arrive home tomorrow at about 3:45pm in Dayton. I can not wait.

See you all very soon!

Cort P1
I will miss this view!

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Day 53: Headed Home!

I’m currently in Dar Es Salaam until my flight tomorrow at 11:00pm (it’s gonna be such a long day just waiting to come home). I leave Dar Es Salaam Tuesday, August 13th and arrive back in the US Wednesday, August 14th. So much traveling to get home! I’m waiting on Renalda’s brother, Godfrey to come get me and take me around the city for a little bit. Yesterday when our plane landed the woman behind me passed out and started seizing. It was very scary and I have no idea if she was okay. Just a few minutes ago there was a very loud noise outside, my whole body shook and then all power went out. VERY scary. I’m hoping it was due to construction or something. I have met so many wonderful people here but I must say I am so ready to be home!

See you all soon!

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Day 47

Today was such a great day! Renalda had to finish up her experiments at site 13 (I am finished there) so I decided to go diving with George (dive shop owner) for the day. It was so nice to dive and actually have time to look around and explore. We did two dives and went down 60 feet. The diversity of fish is just amazing. It is like diving in a coral reef minus the coral. I tried to take pictures but the fish were moving all over the place and I mostly got pictures of fish swimming away. I saw some really cool electric blue catfish and a really big catfish as well. There were some crabs and eels, small and large but I am finally used to them and don’t go swimming the opposite direction when I see them. When we surfaced from the first dive the weather looked crummy and it actually rained a little! The first time I have seen rain since I arrived in Tanzania! The air temperature felt pretty cold as well and I was happy to get back in the water to warm up for the second dive. When the second dive ended the sun was back up and the day was gorgeous again. I’m so happy I finally got one day to explore the lake instead of working. It is so beautiful. Tomorrow the team (Renalda, Ben, Ellen and me) are going to site 3 to do PPR again and finish up some experiments. Thursday and Friday we will be at site 13 trying to catch fish we tagged when we first got here (fingers crossed we find some). Saturday is a pack day and Sunday I will be on a plane to Dar Es Salaam awaiting my flight back home to Ohio on Tuesday. This field season has gone by so fast but I am really looking forward to coming home!

C fish 1

C fish 2

C Fish 3 Fish protecting its nest

C Fish 4 Eel

C Fish 5 Pretty fish

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Day 43: SCARED

Today was a day that I will NEVER forget. Since time is running short Renalda and I had to split up (me at site 11 and her at site 12). Ellias caught 4 fish so that I could start my experiment and then he and Renalda left so that she could go set up transects. They were not that far since I could see the boat in the distance and I felt comfortable at the site. About two hours had passed and I was working on my last fish when something caught my eye by the water. I looked up and saw a crocodile coming out of the water! I froze, panicked and grabbed a bucket and climbed on the tallest rock nearby.

Cort Rock
The rock I was on

The crocodile disappeared about 15-20 feet from where I was. I started banging the bucket on the rock in hopes to scare it away. I also collected some rocks to use for defense. I started to feel a little less shook up about 10 minutes later (still on top of the boulder with my rocks) until I heard a leaf crunch to my right. I looked over and saw the crocodile coming towards me out of the water! I freaked out and started throwing rocks at it until it ran towards the water. I’m not sure if it was just checking me out or was feeling hungry. All I could think of was Pete telling us the night before that the crocs don’t usually attack in the water but more so on the shore (where I was) where people wash their laundry and hang out. I think this could have been the most scared I have ever been or close. I kept throwing rocks all around me every minute in hopes it would not come near me again. I noticed three guys sailing and yelled and waved to them until they took their sail down and paddled to me. They did not speak English but could see that I was distraught. They asked if I saw a simake (fish). I said no simake, crocodile! They looked around which made me feel better but kept saying bye until they got in their boat and I was climbing back on my bouder when I finally noticed Ellias coming toward me with the boat. What a relief!! They told Ellias that I saw a big fish and tried to throw rocks at it to kill it (I guess my picture I drew wasn’t good enough). I told Ellias I saw a crocodile and not to catch fish and that I was not diving today. We loaded up the boat and left to get Renalda. I guess it’s pretty neat that I got to see the crocodile but I will be fine if that is the last one I see. I will never be alone on this lake again. What a crazy day. I’m exhausted and feeling a little rough. I plan on taking some Tylenol and a nap. Tomorrow the whole team is going to site 3 where Ellen saw a small crocodile yesterday…. Yikes.

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Day 41: Gator and bad internet

The internet has been so bad lately. I wasn’t able to really talk to anyone over the weekend it was so bad.

Ellen saw a gator today. She was at one of the sites we go to and had the go pro on taking video. She saw the gator while she was in the water! This is the same site we are going to on Friday. I’m a little nervous.

Today was busy and I am tired. So tired I can’t write anymore 🙂

Tomorrow is August 1st and I am home, back in Ohio on August 14th. I am looking forward to a nice shower and good food.

-Cortney

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Day 35: Otter

I had another crazy day! Renalda and I got dropped off by boat along the lake (near Jacobsons beach). While we were at Gombe two days ago someone told us that he saw a crocodile at Jacobsons the previous day. This is a little disturbing and I kept checking around to make sure there was nothing. When we unloaded our equipment on the rocks I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye but there were only a few bubbles when I looked. We went on with our business and I learned how to catch fish with the net (lay out net and chase fish in). It is much more difficult than it sounds and is not my favorite thing to do. Around 11:15am Renalda started watching fish for behavior experiments and I started collecting rocks at different depths to collect algae. I was at a depth of 2.5 meters and about 7 feet from shore when I dove down to collect a rock. Once I grabbed the rock I started to surface when I noticed something was watching me. I froze and looked back at the creature and noticed it was an otter! It was so exciting and then terrifying since I didn’t know what to do (and I know nothing about otters). It was just looking at me in the water. I panicked and dropped the rock and swam as fast as I could for land. I waited on the rocks until Ben and Ellen drove by in their boat and I told them what I saw. Ben told me he heard of a person getting attached by an otter before so I decided not to get back in. I told Renalda what I saw but she was about 100 yards away. About 30 minutes later I heard Renalda yelling through her snorkel and her hands flailing around. She had seen two otters chasing each other around. She tried taking me into swimming to her. NO way was I going to do that! It was all very funny once we knew we were safe and out of the water. Pete later told us the otters are harmless and how lucky we were to get to see them. He has been doing research here for years and has never seen one. All in all it was a good day. I can still picture the otter just watching me. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings 🙂

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Day 34: Pictures

Today I have just anazlyzed some data so I am going to post more pictures of the chimps as well as a few other cool pictures that I have taken!

Read this in a book I bought AFTER going. “If a male charges you, do not scream or run away. If you can’t move then try to ignore the chimpanzee. If you can move, stand up quietly and slowly, walk to the nearest tree (it is well to identify one in advance) and hold on tight. Remember that chimpanzees are three times stronger than you are.” YIKES.

C1 AH!

C2

C3

C4 Jane Goodall’s House when she is here.

C5
A lot of vegetation has been burned along the lake. People combat dry season wildfires from neighboring communities by early burning (shown in the picture). These fires reduce impact on grasslands and create boundaries so future fires do not become too large. I was also told they burn the land to keep animals and snakes away.

C6 Woman doing her laundry

C7 You can see the drying racks for the dagaa (sardines). They smell so bad

C8 Redtail Monkey

C9 Nasa (female chimp)

C10 First Chimp I saw

C11

C12 Ellias

Here is a neat website about the park and chimps: http://www.tanzania-adventure.com/gombe-chimps.htm

Oh, it cost $100 USD to get into the park but luckily I had to pay $50 USD since I have a residence (CTA) permit. I remembered my guides name since it was pronounced like car phone Haha!

Gremlin is the one in the pic I sent with the baby. She is very famous and was the one who walked right by me. She was born in 1970! (Day 33 Post)

**I don’t know why some of the pictures are smaller. You can click on a picture and it will open it bigger!