My name is Vanessa and I am a student at the Seychelles Maritime Academy formerly known as Maritime Training Centre. I have been studying Fisheries Biology this past year at SMA and I will be spending four exciting weeks as part of a work attachment with MCSS/CICP.
In the past I have been involved in some marine related activities before attending SMA such as in 2012 I participated in the Academy by the sea accredited by MCSS, The Subios festival as well as the Sea Turtle Festival. Since starting SMA i have gained knowledge and skills in both theory and practice. The classes are direct but its the attachment that makes the huge difference.
My first attachment was with the Seychelles Fishing Authority in the enforcement field where we would patrol, monitor and investigate both foreign and local vessels; it was thrilling. In November last year I was with GVI with my collegue Oneal Tamboo for a month on Curieuse mostly focusing on sea turtle monitoring everyday on the different beaches, and twice a week we had juvenile sicklefin shark tagging either early morning or dusk depending on the tide and the weather. This was a month of communal living with different nationalities aging from 18 to 40 so you can imagine the challenges but it was a memorable end of year experience. Not to forget the end of week barbecues every Friday night. Curieuse was an enchanting paradise.
At the start of this year i was re located for attachment and this time in the hands of the Indian Ocean Tuna laboratories for four long weeks. Not being able to participate in many activities because this was no game but a serious organization with an incredible and reputable name being the largest tuna factory in the southern hemisphere. They have high standards to comply with but on the bright side I met many new people from different countries. The attachment was extended and I decided it was time to move forward and find new experiences and I remembered I had applied to work at another organisation the year before. I have been with Socomep ever since but only during the weekends I attend school during the week. The work there is quite simple, to tally and monitor the unloading of tuna from tuna vessels. The most exciting part is that I work with a difficult but underestimated work force. I have met many people from different organisations and i have worked with Korean, French and Spanish vessels! This field is so vast with many ripe opportunities which is just waiting to be filled. It is a really vigorous field to be related to especially for a girl.
Unfortunately this is my last attachment and I am spending four weeks here with the MCSS crew on Cerf Island. It is quite a sight for sore eyes. MCSS is one of the many NGO in Seychelles which contributes to the restoration and conservation of marine life in our small island state. The marine life here is slowly flourishing despite the turn of events in the past such as the coral bleaching and the tsunami that destroyed many features in our coral reefs. MCSS is putting a reasonable amount of time and effort as they focus on the reefs around Cerf Island. So far I have been learning some different coral species found in the snorkeling areas on Cerf Island as there are three main sites where we take clients on a daily basis. I have also been taught the names of the different butterfly fish and Angel fish found in the coral reefs. Slowly but surely I will master these facts.
This may seem the end for attachment but it is only the beginning for a better future for our diverse ocean. At the end of my month here it will be great to remember the fun facts that i am learning and to maybe one day put it in practice and work with MCSS or any other NGO for that matter.
To sum up I have gained knowledge and skills in different fields and maybe after school conservation may or may not be the direct approach for me to start working with but for sure a university degree does not sound that bad if I want to move forward in this field. Knowledge is power. To the young generation growing it is important for you to think about our ocean though we pollute the environment daily it is not right instead of pointing fingers to who started these vile rituals to destroy our oceans for capital lets find sustainable ways to protect our oceans for the future.
Guess who’s back?!
After my return in La Réunion for my Master’s certification and my trip to Madagascar, I have decided to come back in order to work alongside the MCSS and CICP crew! It’s really great that I am able to help and be involved again in the work conducted here. It will also enable me to gain even more professional experience and further my knowledge on tropical marine ecosystems and especially coral reefs.
Carla and I looked after CICP during Savi’s absence and I’m really happy to work with her, as I’m sure the next weeks will work quite well! And the best thing is she can teach me the Créole Seselwa hehe ! I got my bearings again very quick! Savi introduced me to two new tasks of CICP which I’m really excited about! Their new coral monitoring enables to study the recovery capability of some colonies by taking a picture of them once a week, and their turtle identification project which intends to build a catalogue of all the turtles encountered on the reefs of St Anne Marine Park and further follow the population.
Remember that bleaching event that happened the last few months? The water temperature reached 32° in April!! The damages were very severe on the reef itself and on our nurseries, especially on the branching colonies of Acropora. Now, only a few fragments of Stylophora are remaining alive on our nurseries, as soon as possible we will transplant them on an artificial reef made of Rebar! If you can’t tell, I can’t wait!! The bleaching events show the vulnerability of coral reefs and the limit of such actions of active restoration. Even if our means of action are small, we can’t relinquish to do nothing to help our reef to cope with their changing and challenging environment.
WOW! Time flies! So it’s been 3 months since I’ve been working with MCSS/CICP and so far I’m loving it. I get to learn different facts about turtles, fishes and even corals every day. Margaux left on the 2nd of September and since then I’ve been missing her a lot. But now I have a new friend to work with her name is Chloe and she’s really nice. We’ve been doing some coral monitoring and also taking the clients out to snorkeling over at the habitation reef and Fairy tern. We tried doing the coral monitoring at Cerf’s reef but the visibility wasn’t so great so we haven't been able to survey that reef as it depends on the wind direction and if weather conditions allow. We managed to do the ones at Habitation and Fairy Tern.
A few weeks ago we brought some clients to snorkel at Sainte Anne’s marine park which was really exciting and fun. We also saw a Hawksbill turtle which we took pictures of to check if it’s a new turtle or a re-sighting using the I3S program. We also check if the turtle has any scars and marks on it.
Apart from snorkeling with clients, we make time to coral monitoring along the Habitation, Fairy tern, and Cerf’s reef every week. We do that so we could tell which corals are recovering from the bleaching event and which are dying. So far most of our Acroporas are dead which is a shame, but some corals like Physogyra are recovering from the bleaching event which is awesome.
Today is the 10th of October and there’s a new girl in the aquarium. Here name is Vanessa and she’s from SMA school. Chloe and I brought her out snorkeling and we showed her different life forms of coral and different fish. We also showed her the nurseries in the water which she watched us clean it with a sponge and toothbrush. We also got lucky and saw 3 Eagle rays and 2 baby lemon shark which was really exciting.
So I’m looking forward to see more and meet new volunteers :)
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