Jeremy had not been on the original project team – indeed I did not know of his existence when I had been here for the first two months. Our original survey expert had not been able to go through with the project and Jeremy was known to our team leader. He had arrived a few days before me so I turned up at the house in Calodyne with him already settled in. It’s always a mouth gulping moment when you meet someone for the first time with whom you have been forced to work for a long period, but after a day or two of pleasantries, a few beers, exploration of our mutual pasts and a few terrible joke telling sessions, we found ourselves comfortable in each other’s company. As the next few weeks progressed I grew to like Jeremy enormously – very passionate and sound over his work, meticulous over contract arrangements but also generous to other’s opinions and relaxed about working arrangements and incredibly good company. Those qualities proved supremely important given the tasks we had to do.
We set about thinking through our strategy for field work and the resources we needed. The survey needed to be two sided. We wanted to get out in the lagoon in each area and determine both the substrate and any other environmental factors. Substrate would be complexes of hard or soft coral, seagrass beds on sand, and rocky or sandy bottoms. The environmental factors could include turbidity or algal growth on the substrate. To complement this we had to walk the entire coast of each pressure zone to document what the coastline was like. We needed to see whether it was naturally a sandy or pebbly beach, a rocky area or cliff, or whether some sort of coastal protection in the form of gabions, walls or rocks had been placed.
In theory it sounds ok. The practicalities on the marine side were we needed to hire several boats. It is difficult to get inshore boats to sail around the whole island given the nature of the lagoons, so we had to pick local guides in each area. We required people who could do the survey for us, with our guidance, and we needed a strategy. I had done several interpretations in the Caribbean and worked out a method – to use the imagery first to delimit areas that looked the same, and try and categorise from your previous knowledge which of the types it was, then you would head out in a boat and try and find those areas and see if your first guess was right. In theory, if your first guess was right you could just go round reaffirming that your initial interpretation was always correct, but if you found something different at your location, you had to start working out what that classification was, what it looked like on the image and why it was different from the other class you first thought of.