During these two months, I got the chance to be on the field – that’s so say in the water, literally – everyday ! I helped out with the maintenance of the coral nurseries, cleaning the ropes while freediving and surveying the newly transplanted corals into the reef. It allowed me to improve my freediving performance, staying longer and longer underwater... half human half mermaid now ;). I also help out setting up of the large-scale nurseries, which allowed me to integrate coral restoration techniques but also practical techniques such as knot.
I am also happy for having been able to get new naturalist skills about corals and fish. I am now able to identify a lot of different genus of corals within the coral reefs, but also some families – or species – of fish. I find it exciting to be able to recognize what I have in front of my eyes while freediving/scuba-diving ! Getting the chance to approach sea turtles in their natural habitat was also truly amazing.
I especially thank Dr. David Rowat for allowing me to undertake my internship within MCSS, Léo Barret my supervisor for his availability & his joie de vivre, Hemma my colleague for being my funny & crazy work partner, and all the MCSS members I met. This internship has been really enriching ; being immersed within the creole culture surrounded by nature in a such beautiful place as Cerf Island was definitely a great experience !
I am Julia B., a French student of third year of bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Biology of Organisms at the University of Poitiers, France. After having taken an unforgettable gap year in a sea turtle conservation project in Costa Rica, which also made me passionate about diving, I became more and more interested in the marine world, especially in marine wildlife. Therefore, I decided to do my two-month internship in the framework of my bachelor’s degree in this area, and I finally got the opportunity to join the CICP project of MCSS on Cerf Island, Seychelles. Within this conservation project, I am going to identify coral & fish of the area, help in coral rehabilitation (maintenance of the artificial reefs & nurseries).
During the first week, I intended to follow the project routine : we begin the day with a beach clean up (plastic & metal mainly found...), work at the office (coral/local wildlife presentation, learn/map the different snorkelling trails), and then go on the field, as a snorkelling trail guide with tourists and/or snorkel to help with the maintenance of the coral nurseries. I will also help for the corals survey, focusing on the distribution of druppela spp. on recent transplanted corals.
I am looking forward to improve my knowledge on corals & local fish, and to learn how to protect them against human activities.
10 weeks came and went. I’m finishing up my final week here on Cerf and I can only say how sad I am that it’s ending so quickly. I’ve learned countless new things during my stay. I learned a lot about myself in terms of dealing with problems so far from home. I learned valuable information about the coral reefs, the dangers they face, the importance they have, how to identify them, and how to help them. I have gained so much confidence in talking to guests. When I started, this idea was a bit daunting, but now I feel so comfortable interacting with the public and keeping people informed and how they too can help.
I’ve gained an incredible new-found love for free diving. I started off not even knowing how to do this, and now I prefer to swim like this rather than along the surface. I love getting up close and personal with the sea life as much as possible. Even though the work was tough, I will miss cleaning the nurseries close to every day. I always felt useful here on Cerf because I was always completing projects for Savi that he’s been trying to get done for a long time. I was definitely utilized properly for my different skills. I know now that I would be happy to have a career in a field where I spend time in the water as often as possible preferably with corals. The ocean, corals, and fish have been the best therapy I could’ve possibly asked for. While my stay did have its ups and downs, I still managed to find a silver lining in everything and to just try and enjoy my stay the best I could.
While I was here, I made a few incredible and unforgettable friends on Mahe. We often went on hikes and snorkels together. It was good to find other people who share similar interests in the environment as me. I’ll miss so much about Seychelles, it’s hard to write everything out. A huge, huge thank you to Savi for all his help and all his sass. He was the best project coordinator I could’ve asked for and it was a pleasure working alongside him.
Thanks to the Cerf Island Resort and L’Habitation for the accommodation, meals, and the all friendly staff. Thanks to MCSS for this wonderful opportunity to further my experience and my knowledge. This time will hold a dear place in my heart.
Hi, my name is Hemma Saffrance. I am 18 years old and I am from Seychelles Maritime Academy. I am in my second year in Fisheries science. I heard about MCSS at school through Carla who was here last year. I decided to work with MCSS on Cerf island because I am interested in the marine life. My three months’ work attachment is until June and will give me more of an idea of what I really want to do in the future.
Since I started on Monday the 19th, I have beach cleaned with Arriana, have gone snorkeling on some of the trails, learned about the important roles of reefs for the ecosystem, and have also learned about the different life forms of coral. I’ve learned different facts about some genus of corals and fish in our sea which I have seen on the guided snorkels with guests. So far I am enjoying my time working with MCSS.
In my 3 months here I would like to learn more about the restoration project; the artificial reefs and nurseries. I am also looking forward to learn about the identification of and threats to the corals. I hope at the end of my work attachment I will be able to know which job should I choose in the future.
It has been 6 weeks that I have been part of this the Cerf Island Conservation Program, and I am proud about what I have done! Savi and the volunteers have done a great job with nurseries and artificial coral frames. After the 2 recent major bleaching events (1998 and 2016), this essential milieu needs to be supported.
My major task here is taking care of all what these people have built. The eight nurseries need to be cleaned so it is with pleasure that I take a toothbrush and that clean each rope between coral fragments. This step is essential for the growth of corals, which prevents the accumulation of algae which can smother the small corals. The artificial reefs offer a great visual of our project as we snorkel with clients. The abundant life near the frames demonstrate how a 3D structure serve as habitat and refuge.
The other part of my job here is raising awareness among the guests. Simple things like wearing a rash vest/guard to avoid coral harmful sunscreens, recycling, reduce meat intake or just explaining that coral is an animal and that is why we need to respect it. Sometimes languages barriers are hard to collapse. Fortunately, English is quite often understood by everyone. And if it is not enough, the coral frames and the beauty of the nature suffice. Occasionally, some people are not confident swimmers. But it is not a problem, step by step I teach the basics of snorkeling and we have life-jackets to get people comfortable and keep the reef from being trampled/grabbed out of fear.
There are global problems such as global warming, overfishing and pollution, and each of us need to ask themselves: What practices are harmful to the Earth and how can I avoid them? It is why, each morning we clean the beaches of Cerf Island and recycle the bottles and cans that we find. It is why we skip the straws when ordering drinks, its why we have vegetarian lunches during the week, and its why we practice seafood savvy practices and avoid buying shells and/or coral jewelry. Believe me when I say there is a lot of trash which we cannot recycle: plastic bags, cigarette butts, Styrofoam, ropes, straws, and flipflops just to name a few.
During the week-end, I like to spend my time on Cerf island. I snorkel as long and as far that I can! Because of this I’ve been lucky to encounter white tip shark and turtles. When you can be patient and look everywhere, the reef is a big playground where lots of creatures are hiding. Also, Savi taught me how to use the macro setting on my camera and now I cannot stop capturing all the things I see; from small to large! I am particularly hypnotized by the tentacles of Goniopora and amused by the funny bubble, vesicles of Physogyra.
I’ve learned so much here: how to identify the genera of corals, the family and genus of reef fish, some species of rays, sharks, urchins and more! Also how to identify a turtle with the using of I3S (I thought that I had seen 4 different turtles, but I did not expect that I had encountered the same one 3 times).
I want to save the ocean. Sometimes, I have the feeling that what I do is not enough, or that I do not raise enough awareness. It is why I want to continue to learn about it and find the best ways to make our planet a better place for nature, for us and the future.
This fabulous internship is already at the end unfortunately, but another step is coming! I am going to France, in an aquarium; Mare Nostrum. I want to compare in situ and ex situ conservation. They have a coral reef aquarium and I hope that I can help them with the knowledge from here. I will also work on jellyfish, Chrysaora Pacifica. Those are very important because it indicates a lot about the ocean health. The rise of jellyfish is because of the diminution of their principal predators: turtles, and other large fish. This is a direct consequence of the overfishing and extinction of marine species. As well, the rise of the nutrients in the ocean is due to pollution and removal or herbivorous creatures.
I want to thank Savi for the acknowledgment that I got, the unbelievable experience that he offered me and the awesome moments that I experienced. Thank you Arianna, patient volunteer, who helped me to find my way during all my trips, improve my English and support my terrible French accent! I’m gratefully of the Cerf Island Resort, for providing me with room and board, and its staff with those I've shared a lot of time. Habitation Hotel for providing us with delicious veggie lunches, and Marine Conservation Society Seychelles for this internship!
I’ve been on the island for over 6 weeks now and it has been quite the experience and definitely not what I expected. Every morning we do a beach clean, where we pick up any sort of trash along the beach. Then we provide guided snorkels to guests. This has been really fun and rewarding so far. Sometimes we get guests who are not so confident in the water and I’ll hold their hand so that they are able to see the reef. Afterwards, they always tell me how happy they were to have gone and that I was very helpful. I find this part of my experience to be very satisfying because I have also had issues in the water in the past, so it’s been nice to relate and help make others comfortable. It’s been really great meeting people from around the world and learning about different cultures as well. And It’s been nice teaching guests about the importance of reef restoration and proper snorkel etiquette. They always seem to be interested in what we do and how they can do their part to help.
n the afternoon, we clean our coral nurseries of algae. This was quite challenging for me at first, but I eventually got the hang of things. I’m still a bit slow and can’t hold my breath for too long, but I really enjoy being able to help the baby corals. I’ve learned all about the corals and fish we have here on the island and I love quizzing myself in my head as I’m snorkeling. I’d say my favorite coral is Platygyra and my favorite fish is the semi-circle angelfish. I’ve seen two turtles so far. The first encounter I had was amazing! We hung out with it for a while and it even came up for some air. I’ve seen lots of rays, cucumbers, seastars, urchins, nudibranchs, squids, and even a baby lemon shark! On the weekends, I typically stay on Mahe in Beau Vallon at the other volunteer base and go on hikes, snorkel, or just relax with other volunteers. In the coming weeks, I’m looking forward to seeing more animals on the reef (hopefully more sharks and turtles) and continuing to help guests as best I as I can.
I am Sebastien, a young 23 year old student from Belgium at the Haute Ecole de Louvain en Hainaut. I study animals and how to care for them, I’ve had experience with terrestrial fauna but not enough about marine life. This is a bachelor’s degree and for my last year I am interning here at Cerf Island for the Cerf Island Conservation Program with Marine Conservation Society Seychelles. I am passionate about the marine world and I want to protect this threatened ecosystem.
The first task I had here was cleaning the beach and I was shocked when we had two whole bags of trash (but especially plastic). First, I thought the beach had never been cleaned, but that is only the result of one weekend! Each day we pick up plastic bottles to recycle them and other rubbish to free the ocean from this plague and endangered marine species who eat it, get stuck in it and gets injured from it (like the turtle in 2015 who was found with a straw in the nasal cavity).
I snorkeled for the first time today and saw the results of coral bleaching and other threats corals face. It’s sad but I see something, something great! Some recovery of the reef and healthy corals! I propose to each of you to come and see it for yourself to realize that reef recovery will take a long time and require efforts on all our parts.
Do you not want to see white coral in the sea? Do you search some colors? That is not a problem, corals are very important structure as they offer habitats to 25% of the world’s biodiversity include fishes, rays, urchins, turtles and if you are lucky you can see sharks! That allows for a wide color pallet.
My mother language is French, but I will be happy to help you in English during my six weeks here. After this experience I will go to Mare Nostrum at Montpellier in France. That is an aquarium where I want to experiment how can we make the best for the marine nature.
Hi! My name is Arianna and I am from San Diego, California. I moved to Oregon for college, where I majored in Marine Biology. I am very passionate about the ocean and what it takes to save it. I became interested in marine biology when I was in high school. I took classes every summer at a local university and one of them was all about marine invertebrates. I immediately fell in love with all those little boneless animals and decided in a heartbeat that the ocean is what I wanted to focus my life on. As a marine biology major, I was required to take three terms at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology. This close-knit campus taught me a lot about conservation, marine environmental issues, the different ecosystems around the world and their importance, and how to live a different lifestyle. I learned a lot about the importance of coral reefs such as their role as an ecosystem and their effects on surrounding wildlife. I’ve also learned quite a bit about the threats they face such as bleaching, coastal development, and pollution. This campus is where I learned I wanted to focus on conservation due to the high degree of negative impacts on our oceans (and the world in general). This is also where I discovered my love for tide pooling, which is now my all-time favorite activity.
I found out about MCSS from my friend who got ahold of a list of internships and this one happened to be on there. Cerf Island stuck out to me because it has a lot of involvement in coral restoration. Since I wanted to pursue conservation and I have an unconditional love for invertebrates, this project fit all my interests as a post grad internship. I also grew up working on trail maintenance with my mom as a volunteer, so I found this aspect of Cerf Island to be beneficial to me. Another important area this project focuses on is interacting with guests, guiding them through snorkel routes, and informing them about the dangers the reefs face. I’m not usually very good at public speaking, so I am looking forward to gaining more confidence and increasing awareness. I’ve become very interested in public outreach lately since I’ve found that a lot of people don’t know all that much about the ocean and the threats it faces. And I am eager to be able to share my knowledge to guests and interact with people from around the world. I know a lot of people don’t think they can help change the world, but I believe any little bit can help. With more awareness, more people will hopefully feel compelled to do their part and in turn, tell the people around them to increase this mindful thinking.
Heya! I’m Lonne, nice to meet you :D
I’m a half English, half Dutch third year university student studying Environmental Science for Sustainable Energy and Technology in Breda, The Netherlands. As part of my study, I had the opportunity to gain some experience working for a few months, and what better place to do so than with Marine Conservation Society Seychelles?
During my internship with MCSS, I’ve worked on two coral restoration projects - one of which being located on Cerf Island. Having spent just over a month with the CI team, I can say I sure have learnt a lot about the reef and the threats it faces.
My early mornings are spent ridding the beach of litter which gets washed up on shore. You’d be surprised by how much litter actually comes our way, and the bizarre things we find washing up... Odd shoes, endless amounts of polystyrene and all sorts of (empty) alcohol bottles! It’s important for waste to be appropriately recycled/ disposed of, so it’s not in the way of harming life or ruining the aesthetics of beautiful beaches.
Once the beach is clean, we educate clients about the projects in progress on the island and give them an introduction to the reef before going out for a group snorkel. Being located in a Marine Park, the reef at Cerf Island is rich with various coral and fish species, which breathtakingly decorate the water with colour.
Through the completion of various workshops during my time on Cerf, my knowledge of corals and other reef fauna has grown immensely! Having seen the results first hand (bleached, dead and broken coral) I never realised how various daily activities can have such a direct impact on reefs as a whole! By making changes such as cutting down the use of fossil fuels and increasing education amongst people, threats faced by the reef can be reduced. Having resorts and hotels host such initiatives, as at Cerf Island Resort, also integrates members of the public into the understanding how change can make long term positive differences.
Through maintaining and expanding the coral restoration project, and it’s incredibly satisfying to think my contributions will help rebuild parts of the reef lost in the major 1998 and 2016 bleaching events.
As my internship comes to an end, I look forward to applying the experiences and knowledge I’ve gained into my future studies along with influencing the career path I’ll choose to follow.
Hello I’m Emma!
I have just graduated from Plymouth University where I studied Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology. I wanted to volunteer with the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles to gain valuable experience that will help me progress in a career of marine conservation and research. I have been with MCSS for 2 months now and have spent most of my time at the Fishermen’s Cove Project helping to maintain and monitor both in-situ and ex-situ coral nurseries, as well as taking guests on guided snorkels. I am now also splitting my time with the Cerf Island Conservation Project where I am two days a week Mondays and Tuesdays. Although, both projects involve guided snorkels and monitoring and maintaining coral nurseries it is great to be able to spend time in different places and on different reefs. Working at Cerf has also given me the opportunity to improve my coral and fish identification, which I will need for conducting reef surveys next year when the weather is nice again. As well as the academic side I am trying to improve my free diving, which needs a lot of improving, and am taking any opportunity I can to dive. I will be with MCSS until June so will hopefully get to spend some time down south learning about the turtles, and maybe even get to see some nesting and others hatching Blue Planet style. Fingers crossed, I’ll keep you posted.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.