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!
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