'Our little Claire-bear played the role of the first volunteer on this project and unfortunately the time has already come to say goodbye to this accountant. Read on as she bids the island farewell...
'I knew it had to end at some point and I have already extended one week longer than initially planned but I’m so sad to leave. This month with MCSS and particularly the CICP programme was an amazing and unique experience I am not ready to forget. I have learnt so much about fishes and coral ID and general marine conservation and terrestrial knowledge through all the activities we have performed. I am so grateful to have the chance to work with Savi, Natalie and also many other people who taught me along the way.
This morning we were were aided by the hands of the Maritime Training Center and Seychelles National Parks Authority as we beach cleaned and collected three full bags of garbage. This is quite a haul and not only can guests enjoy pristine beaches, but we can rest assured that we have done our part to minimize plastics in our ecosystem.
Then I had a couple of guests who were interesting in snorkeling so I guided them through the trail. We had the chance to see a sea turtle, many trumpet fish and an overall delightful underwater scene. From almost zero knowledge on fish ID to know being able to identify fish to genus level, I was now able to show guests the reef life name them rather than my previous ‘Hmm I don’t really know, I will ask and let you know as soon as I know’. They were very happy about their snorkel and so was I!
MCSS is not only Cerf Island Conservation Programme but also other very interesting projects on the main Island of Mahe. This is how I got the chance to spend one day at the Banyan Tree Rehabilitation Center as a part of the ongoing nesting turtle and terrapin monitoring. The day there started by feeding the little terrapin (hard not to fall in love with this lovely buddy). After that, hop in the car to start the beach patrol where we are looking for any turtle tracks on the beaches to monitor the critically endangered Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and endangered Green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtles. On one beach we found a fresh track and another one in which we concluded was of a nesting (fresh track going up through the sand dunes and vegetation), turtle on the last beach of Anse Cachee! :) Though it is the middle of peak nesting season, I realize how lucky I am to have witnessed this event. We had time to take some pictures for ID / monitoring it, measuring the carapace, and have a final picture on her way back to sea. This was a magical moment, even more since we found another nesting place on the same beach. What else can we ask for?!
When we got back to the Center, we had more good news waiting for us; the arrival of a new terrapin at the Center that somebody had found within the resort. This is how I had the opportunity to discover the procedure for a new arrival including weighing of the terrapin, measuring it and performing an X-Ray to check if it is in good health. This one was in a very good shape and is now a new addition to the ID library of terrapins! This patrolling day was very rewarding, I have learnt a lot thanks to Vanessa (who carries out the turtle monitoring around our nesting beaches) and other volunteers who work there. I am very grateful to them and so happy to have seen and learnt so much :)
It is also very rewarding when guests ask questions about the project, and when they are interested by what we do and ask how they can help. Most of them didn’t realize how important every little step is and I can’t blame them since I felt the same way before living this experience.
Even if I am going back to my (very exiting) accounting life in Paris, I will now try to incorporate everything I have learned here in my daily routine back to France. I might not be very helpful with fish ID on the subway but will definitely pick and throw away/recycle every waste I see in the street and try to teach my friends and family about the marine conservation and how they too can help. I don’t want to stop helping with marine conservation, I will speak about it, do some volunteering as often as I will have the opportunity to and maybe one day see if I can find a way to work in this exciting and constantly developing field of conservation.'
Thanks Claire for all the laughs and hard work you put into this project as we move forward one step at a time to preserve the biodiversity of Cerf Island! Good luck in your accounting future!