Just a few farewell words from our Seychelles Maritime Academy work attachment student Farah.
"My two months here at the Cerf Island Conservation Program has come to end, I had such a blast while working with everyone here. I’ve learned so much about the reefs, conservation efforts, and also more coral identification and other marine life. Now that I have learned corals from over 50 genera, I don’t think I have a favorite anymore, I like them all! I’ve also learned to recognize reef fish such as parrot fish, angel fish, butterfly fish, rabbit fish and their important roles to a reef’s ecosystem. Now that I got the chance to experience working in marine conservation; I think that it would be something I’d like to pursue as a career. Hopefully I can visit the program again soon!"
It was a pleasure to have you!
Farah's 8 week work attachment is already halfway finished and in this blog she updates us on her progress here at CICP.
"It has been four weeks now that I am here at the MCSS/CICP. I have learned quite a lot I must say, I definitely learned more about the corals and the importance of marine conservation. I Have got a lot better at identifying the corals now and also some of the threats to the corals such as anchors that damage the reef and being kicked with fins while snorkeling. I’ve got a few more favourite corals from the other workshops that I’ve learned like Pavona, Acanthastrea and hynophora I did my coral test which I did pretty good!
I recently learned how to use Interactive individual identification system (I3S) to identify the turtles we encounter on the reefs. I also did some transect surveys on the reefs with Savi to assess the health state of the reef, and on most days I go snorkelling with clients and show them around the snorkelling trails.
We have beach cleaning every Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. We pick up plastic bottles and cans so that it can be recycled and also pick up the trash that has been washed up on the shore and left behind from picnickers such as broken glass, juice boxes, tin foil, plastic bags and mostly Styrofoam lunch boxes.
When we don’t go snorkeling I stay in the office and measure coral fragments or rename some coral photos that we have taken on the reef to help me identify them. Its been a great 4 weeks here especially when its sunny and the sea is calm. I hope the rest of my attachment stays this exciting. "
Trust us when we say we will make sure it will stay exciting as we still have much to share with you!
We have had a new recruit arrive from Europe and I'm sure he's pleased that the rains have ceased and the sun shines on. Read below to meet Mr. Rene from Belgium!
I’m the new volunteer on Cerf Island for the Cerf Island Conservation Program.
My name is René, I’m originally from Belgium. I’m 22 years old. My mother tongue is french but I also speak and am working on my english.
I’m studying agronomy in Belgium and I would like to do a Master’s in biology. I’m in my last year of agronomy and I’ve come to the Islands for an internship. I arrived on the 11th of February and will be here for three months in which I will be working on the growth of the corals on the artificial reefs. I learn a lot about corals everyday and it’s very exciting. Savi teaches me how to recognize the different families/generas of corals; though it was difficult at first it’s much easier now. If you want to see my favourite corals, you can google this: Tubastrea, Leptoria and Physogyra.
I work everyday on the measurement of the corals using Coral Point Count (CPCe). I love my new work and I think that the two next months will go quickly.
I saw my first turtle yesterday and it was incredible.. We swam with it for 10 minutes and then we let her disappear. The people are very nice with me on Cerf, the food is good, I’m in a nice room and I sleep well."
This young lady sure has been busy with the conservation world and we foresee amazing things from her. Its nice to see the young minds of today fully immersed in their environment and community as they learn how they can help as well as enrich themselves. We usually make volunteers choose a favorite coral but Jaymee simply replied with, "they're all my favorite". Read below to catch up on her quick yet jam packed adventure with us.
"My name is Jaymee Clarisse and I am a volunteer at the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA). I am working with the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles (MCSS) for 8 days. I am interested in conservation and have participated in a few marine education programs such as the Academy by the Sea, which was a one week program to educate youths about the importance of conservation. There, I learnt about the different threats to marine life and how we could help to reduce those. We also learned about the importance and the threats to mangroves. We learned about the different reef fish found in Seychelles and snorkeled at Beau Vallon, Port Launay and Cap Ternay! I also went to Darros with the academy for a week, where we learned more about the marine environment from the different people working there. We learnt about sea turtles, manta rays, corals, and much more in the presentations which we had every day. We studied the different birds and plants found on Darros and each planted a tree from their nursery on the island. I also volunteered at the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) for 3 weeks. There, I worked in the lab to collect samples of fish for research and I learned to use excel to input data about the fish samples we were working with.
While on Cerf Island I have learnt about certain species of hard corals through four workshops about different hard corals found here around Cerf Island. Learning these has made snorkeling much more fun as I can now identify the corals I come across. I have also learned about the different types of fish found on the Cerf Island reefs, such as butterfly fish which are corallivores, parrotfish, which have beak like mouths and rabbit fish which have flared and forked tails. I was taught to use a program called Coral Point Count with Excel Extensions (CPCe) to measure coral fragments from the artificial reefs. This helps keep track of the growth of these corals on a monthly basis. On our daily snorkels at the habitation reef, Savi and Chloe point out different corals to Farah, a student from the Seychelles Maritime Academy (SMA), and me, to see if we are able to identify them. This has made remembering the different corals names much easier. While snorkeling we sometimes see octopus, feathertail rays and hawksbill turtles. I also learned about the importance of sea urchins on coral reefs. They are grazers and so clear out space for coral recruits to settle and grow.
Today I was able to help Savi with the line transect at the Habitation reef which was very exciting. We measured out 50 meters on the measuring tape and checked what was underneath it every half meter. This is done to know what is present on the reef. For example if there are lots of hard or soft corals, algae, sand or coral rubble. This transect is done several times a year to monitor the changes to the reef. A positive change would be if there were more corals and a negative change would be if there were less corals than before and more algae. Today I also did a coral test which was really fun. It was to see how well I am now able to recognize the corals I have learned about while here. I am proud that I was able to recognize most of them as there were a few tricky ones.
My experience here on Cerf Island with MCSS has been amazing. I have learned so much and I have had lots fun. Next week I will be going back to SNPA but I hope to come back here again sometime and learn even more."
Thanks for volunteering with us and we look forward to having you again. Best of luck on your exams!
Meet Farah! A student from the Maritime Academy who will be working with us for two months as she learns more about the reef, its threats, how we can help and identifying the little (and big) critters under the sea. Last week was her first with us and lets see what she has to say.
"My name is Farah and I am a student from Seychelles Maritime Academy (SMA). for the past year, I have been learning about the fisheries industry and all about the fisheries act and legislation. I was on attachment at the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) where I learned about different illegal fishing methods in Seychelles such as trawling and spear fishing, and also about the closed and open season for sea cucumbers. I also did a bit of fish packaging.
This year I decided to take an interest in conservation, as I am on attachment with the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles (MCSS) at Ile Aux Cerf where I believe they can help me learn more about the different marine species, to recognize them and be more aware of the protected areas. My first day at the MCSS was quite interesting with my supervisor Savi as he took me snorkeling on one of the reefs to work on coral identification. The rest of the time I’m given lectures about the reef life we are likely to encounter, safe snorkeling practices, and work on learn more corals from the coral workshops. My favorite so far is galaxea (shooting star coral) and some days we make time for recycling.
I have been doing a lot of coral identification from the presentations that I was given by Savi on the fist day I got here which has helped me to recognize the corals better. I managed to memorize the corals from workshop 1! I also learned how to measure coral fragments using Coral Point Count (CPCe) with a volunteer from the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) Jaymee. It is basically just to measure the coral growth from those on the artificial reefs as part of the Cerf Island coral restoration projects.
My first week has been very interesting and fun, I have learned so much and I’m glad I got the opportunity to be a part of their program. :)"
Welcome aboard our team and we look forward to transforming you into a fellow coral nerd.
My name is Samuel Marie I’m 17 years old. I live in the Seychelles with my parents and I have five brothers. I like to do sports like volleyball, football etc… Once I tried to do high jump because my dad complained that I never do athletics but that ended badly for me. For now I’m concentrating on my studies and then maybe in the future I’ll go back to sports depending on what I’m doing in the near future, and I am also doing my studies at Seychelles Maritime Academy. I’m doing the Advanced Certificate in Fisheries Science and Fishing Technology. I’ve just finished my exam and I’m still waiting for the results to see if I get to the second year .The reason I chose to do my work attachment at MCSS on Cerf island is because first of all I love the sea and I think its the most beautiful place there is on this Earth. I know some parts of it might be dangerous but that’s what makes it more exciting and another reason is I want to learn the development that’s happening in the marine life. I’m very excited to learn about the types of corals, their names, their different ways of living and how some of them can survive stressful events such as coral bleaching. I know it won’t be easy to remember the names, shapes and sizes but like my dad always says, “try your best”. I haven’t really decided on what I want to be because I’m still thinking of going back to school when I finish my two years at SMA because there always something new to learn. So that’s a bit about me. Thanks for taking a minute of your time to read this.
After four long weeks today is my last day here on Cerf Island. It was a challenging task but it has been a different adventure from my own perspective to what I was expecting. In these past weeks I have learned about the coral reefs here on Cerf, their genus and their family and I have also encountered different marine species.
In the beginning I was overwhelmed because the names were new to me but in time I understood and started to enjoy the ocean more now that I have new information about the different corals. I also learned about the different butterfly and angel fish found all around the inner islands of Seychelles. They are mostly colorful creatures but there were also further unpredictable approaches from other creatures. For example I saw lemon shark pups occasionally in the shallow parts of the reef, they are adorable. I also encountered many feather tailed rays and once a sting ray beautiful flawless cartilaginous marine organisms. Not to forget the diverse variety of corals found on the Cerf reef. Every day we would go out and have a snorkeling session (which is great if you’re a fanatic and an ocean lover), I participated in the construction of the coral nurseries and artificial reef projects. They are still a work in progress as it will take a while before we see the results but in time we will find the greatness in this smart project.
Mainly CICP is focused on re building the reefs and making it healthier which is important since the Cerf reefs have been under the influence of the several EL NINO events, the Tsunami a few years back, and many negative human impacts (such as boating, illegal fishing, anchoring, etc…). Our economy not only depends on tourists but on the ocean as well this is one of the reasons why people go through great lengths to come and visit our diverse oceans and to explore and savour its natural beauty. So to be fair in order to keep a balanced and eco friendly environment for both human activities and marine life we must stop our bad habits and help protect and preserve our oceans not only for this generation but for our great grand children as well.
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 :)