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.
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