Detour To Libreville
On Monday I left Iguela in a truck with 8 others from Iguela, and we bumped along the sandy track across the savannah for the hour and a half drive to the airport at Ombooue. We then took a short flight to Port Gentil, where Tim and I had a really nice lunch with Francois, his good friend who has driven the whale boat for many seasons here. Tim said I was suffering from “the Iguela Effect” because all I wanted was salads! I ate two in rapid succession. It’s hard to get fresh veggies and fruits at Iguela because they don’t have a garden and everything has to be brought in.
On Tuesday I spent a frustrating 9 hours in the Port Gentil airport after my flight to Gamba was cancelled. The airlines here are small companies, often with only a few planes, so when one of them (or in my case 2) break down, it’s just not possible to get to your destination. I tried the only other airline there that had flights to Gamba, but they were reserved by Total Gas. There are so many oil company people here, that gas companies reserve entire flights for their staff. I was finally able to change my ticket to return to Libreville and got back here Tuesday night.
This is a picture of the peninsula at Port Gentil, which is the westernmost point in Gabon, and the site of an old whaling station. Tim would like to try to collect samples of old whale bone there, to look at DNA and compare it with samples they get from living whales now.
The sunset Tuesday night at the local favorite beach bar in Libreville, a great place to get a Regab and watch the sun go down.
So now I’m thinking about what else I might do to learn about manatees with my remaining one and a half weeks in Gabon. Unfortunately due to logistics, I won’t be able to get to Gamba. Planes fly there only a couple times a week, and with such a big lagoon, I’d need more than a few days to do any meaningful surveys there. Hopefully I’ll get there next time. I’m now hoping to get to Akanda National Park, just north of Libreville. They had a manatee carcass there (a year or so ago I think) and I may be able to combine my fieldwork with Angela, a sea turtle researcher I’ve just met who also wants to survey there.