You are on page 1of 45

SEYCHELLES

MARINE CONSERVATION
AND RESEARCH EXPEDITION

CORAL RECRUITMENT PROGRAMME
July – September 2008

A Status Report prepared by
Global Vision International (GVI) for the Seychelles Centre for Marine Research
and Technology – Marine Parks Authority (SCMRT-MPA), Marine Conservation
Society Seychelles (MCSS) & the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA)

Edited by Paul McCann (Expedition Manager)
& Rochelle Johnston (Science Officer)

Cap Ternay Research Station, PO Box 1240, Victoria, Seychelles
Email: seychelles@gvi.co.uk
Web page: http://www.gvi.co.uk and http://www.gviusa.com

© Global Vision International – 2008 GVI Quarterly Status Report No.083
Table of Contents

List of Figures................................................................................................................... iv
List of Tables .................................................................................................................... iv
Executive Summary…..………………………………………………………………...1
1. Introduction................................................................................................................ 2
1.1 Background ....................................................................................................... 2
1.2 Expedition Training ............................................................................................ 3
2. Coral Recruitment ..................................................................................................... 4
2.1 Introduction ........................................................................................................ 4
2.2 Aims .................................................................................................................. 5
2.3 Methods ............................................................................................................. 6
2.3.1 Hard Coral Recruitment Quadrates ........................................................... 7
2.3.2 Coral Predation and Algal Grazing Belt Transects .................................... 7
2.4 Results .............................................................................................................. 8
2.4.1 Scleractinian Recruit Density ..................................................................... 8
2.4.2 Size Class Comparisons ........................................................................... 9
2.4.3 Reef Substrate Comparison .................................................................... 10
2.4.4 Depth Comparison ................................................................................... 10
2.4.5 Family Specific Diversity .......................................................................... 11
2.4.6 Coral Predator and Algal Grazing Invertebrate Belt Transects ............... 13
2.5 Discussion ....................................................................................................... 14
3. Turtle Monitoring ..................................................................................................... 15
3.1 Introduction ...................................................................................................... 15
3.2 Aims ................................................................................................................ 17
3.3 Methods ........................................................................................................... 17
3.3.1 In-Water Surveys ..................................................................................... 17
3.3.2 Beach Surveys ........................................................................................ 18
3.4 Results ............................................................................................................ 19
3.4.1 Focal Behavioural Study .......................................................................... 17
3.4.2 Beach Surveys ........................................................................................ 18
3.5 Discussion ....................................................................................................... 19
4. Whale Shark and Plankton Monitoring .................................................................... 19
4.1 Introduction ...................................................................................................... 19
4.2 Aims ................................................................................................................ 19
4.3 Methods ........................................................................................................... 21
4.4 Results ............................................................................................................ 22
4.5 Discussion ....................................................................................................... 22
5. Fisheries Assessment ............................................................................................. 22
5.1 Introduction ...................................................................................................... 22
5.2 Aims ................................................................................................................ 22
5.3 Methods ........................................................................................................... 23
5.4 Results ............................................................................................................ 23
5.4.1 Sea Cucumbers ....................................................................................... 23

© Global Vision International – 2008
5.4.2 Lobsters ................................................................................................... 24
5.4.3 Octopus ................................................................................................... 24
5.5 Discussion ....................................................................................................... 24
6. Cetacean Sightings ................................................................................................. 25
6.1 Introduction ...................................................................................................... 25
6.2 Aims ................................................................................................................ 25
6.3 Methods ........................................................................................................... 25
6.4 Results ............................................................................................................ 25
6.5 Discussion ....................................................................................................... 26
7. Satellite Camps ....................................................................................................... 26
7.1 Curieuse Island ............................................................................................... 26
7.1.1 Introduction .............................................................................................. 26
7.1.2 Aims ......................................................................................................... 30
7.1.3 Methods .......................................................................................................
7.1.4 Results ..................................................................................................... 28
7.1.4.1 Scleractinian Recruit Density ................................................................... 28
7.1.4.2 Size Class Comparisons ......................................................................... 29
7.1.4.3 Reef Substrate Comparison .................................................................... 30
7.1.4.4 Depth Comparison ................................................................................... 31
7.1.4.5 Family Specific Diversity .......................................................................... 32
7.1.5 Discussion ............................................................................................... 33

8. Community Development

8.1 National Scholarship Programme .................................................................... 34
8.2 International School Work ............................................................................... 34
8.3 Annual Seychelles regatta ............................................................................... 34

9. Acknowledgements……………………………………………………………………….37
10. References .............................................................................................................. 36
11. Appendices.............................................................................................................. 38

© Global Vision International – 2008
List of Figures

Figure 2-1: Total density of scleractinian recruits per m-2 around North West Mahé…… 8

Figure 2-2: Mean density of scleractinian recruits per m-2 for the 1-2cm and 2-5cm size
classes around North West Mahé. ............................................................................ 9

Figure 2-3: Mean density of scleractinian recruits per m-2 for granitic and carbonate
sites around North West Mahé. ........................................................................ ……10

Figure 2-4: Mean density of scleractinian recruits m-2 for shallow and deep sites around
North West Mahé .................................................................................................... 11

Figure 2-5: Mean density of recruits within different scleractinian families around North
West Mahé. ............................................................................................................. 12

Figure 2-6: Mean density of recruits within different scleractinian families for carbonate
and granitic sites surveyed around North West Mahé ……………………………………..14

Figure 5-1: Mean Density of Holothurians around North West Mahé. ............................ 24

Figure 7-1: Mean density of scleractinian recruits per m-2 around Curieuse and Praslin
................................................................................................................................ 29

Figure 7-2: Mean density of scleractinian recruits per m-2 for the 1-2cm and 2-5cm size
classes around Curieuse and Praslin ...................................................................... 30

Figure 7-3: Mean density of scleractinian recruits per m-2 for granitic and carbonate sites
around Curieuse and Praslin .................................................................................. 31

Figure 7-4: Mean density of scleractinian recruits m-2 for shallow and deep sites around
Curieuse and Praslin ............................................................................................... 32

Figure 7-5: Mean density of recruits within different scleractinian families at Carbonate
Granitic sites around Curieuse and Praslin. ............................................................ 33

List of Tables

Table 2-1: Sites across North West Mahe surveyed by GVI …………………………..…..6

Table 2-2: Total and mean density (m-2) of invertebrates recorded along the belt
transects at all of the 21 sites surveyed around North West Mahé. .............. …Error!
Bookmark not defined.

© Global Vision International – 2008
Executive Summary
GVI have now completed the 17th 10-week phase of the Marine Conservation and
Research Expedition in the Seychelles. The expedition has maintained working
relationships with local schools and the community through local capacity building and
community events. The expedition has continued to gather important environmental
scientific data whilst working with local and national partners. The following activities
were completed by GVI from July-September 2008:

ƒ Coral Recruitment surveying for 20 sites around North West Mahé on behalf of
the Seychelles Centre for Marine Research and Technology – Marine Parks
Authority (SCMRT-MPA).
ƒ In water surveys of the Endangered’ green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the
‘Critically Endangered’ hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) in the Baie
Ternay Marine Reserve, including focal behavioural studies on dietary preference
for the latter, on behalf of the Turtle Action Group Seychelles (TAGS).
ƒ Fisheries surveys and recorded incidental sightings of lobster, octopus, and sea
cucumbers for the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA).
ƒ Plankton monitoring on a weekly basis in addition to detailed identification
records of all incidental Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) sightings for inclusion in
the international R.typus identification database EcOcean.
ƒ Incidental sightings of cetaceans and other mega fauna in the area on behalf of
MCSS.
ƒ The running of a successful satellite camp on Curieuse Island, continuing in-
water marine turtle surveys and a mark-recapture tagging programme for
E.imbricata
ƒ Coral Recruitment surveying for 5 sites around Curieuse Island with a view to
expanding GVI’s conservation and monitoring programme in the Seychelles Inner
Islands on behalf of SCMRT-MPA.
ƒ Continuation of local capacity building and community awareness through the
lessons with the Seychelles International School, the National Scholarship
Programme and SCMRT-MPA Youth Dive Club.

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 1
1. Introduction

Global Vision International’s (GVI) Seychelles expedition is based on Mahé Island at
Cap Ternay Research Centre, which is run by the Seychelles Centre for Marine
Research and Technology – Marine Parks Authority (SCMRT-MPA). A satellite camp
has been established on Curieuse Island just north of Praslin Island. GVI’s main
partners are the SCMRT-MPA, and additional local partners include the Marine
Conservation Society Seychelles (MCSS), and the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA).
Expedition Members are trained by local and international personnel to conduct research
on behalf of the local partners and in support of their ongoing work. This report
summarizes the science and local capacity building programmes conducted during the
ten weeks of the seventeenth expedition run at the base at Cap Ternay, Mahé and on
Curieuse Island, from 11th July 2008 to 21st Septmeber 2008.

Background
All of GVI’s scientific work in the Seychelles is carried out on behalf of our local partners
and at their request, using their methodology. GVI supplies experienced staff, trained
volunteers and equipment to help them achieve their aims. GVI currently has 4 partners,
2 governmental and 2 non-governmental, described overleaf.

Seychelles Centre for Marine Research and Technology – Marine Parks Authority
(SCMRT-MPA): A local para-statal organization partly funded by government, with the
aims of carrying out marine research in the Seychelles and protecting the marine parks.
The coral and fish monitoring carried out for SCMRT-MPA constitutes the majority of the
work conducted by the Expedition Members. Expedition Members also work alongside
MPA rangers on the satellite camp located on Curieuse Island.

Marine Conservation Society Seychelles (MCSS): A local NGO that carries out
environmental research in the Seychelles, currently monitoring Whale Sharks, cetaceans
and turtles around Mahé. GVI assists with all three of these research programmes by
reporting incidental sightings, conducting in-water juvenile turtle surveys, nesting turtle
surveys and undertaking the weekly Plankton monitoring tows.

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 2
Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA): This is the governing body which oversees the
management and regulation of commercial and artisanal fisheries in the Seychelles. This
government agency is directly concerned with setting the catch, bag and seasonal limits
that apply to local stocks on an annual basis, as well as managing the international
export industry that is generated from the harvest of fisheries across the Seychelles
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Turtle Action Group Seychelles (TAGS): A local NGO with a board of directors that
represents the interests of all stakeholders involved in marine turtle monitoring
throughout the Seychelles. The purpose of this organisation is to enhance connectivity
between conservation groups and create a region wide database to share information
that will ultimately lead to greater awareness, and more effective region-wide
management, of sea turtle populations.

Expedition Training
All Expedition Members receive 2 to 3 weeks intensive training on arrival at Cap Ternay,
and ongoing training and education throughout the volunteer phase by experienced staff
members.

Dive Training: All Expedition Members must be at least PADI Open Water to join the
expedition. Expedition Members then receive the PADI Advanced Open Water course
covering Boat, Peak Performance Buoyancy, Navigation, Underwater Naturalist, and
Deep dives. This is offered to all Expedition Members regardless of their qualification as
they will require perfect buoyancy and navigation skills to complete the surveys
successfully without harm to the environment they are surveying.

Species Identification Training: Expedition Members are required to learn either
corals or fish on the species list, dependent on the methodology employed during the
particular phase. Training is two-tiered, initially provided in the form of presentations,
workshops, and informal discussion with the expedition staff. The materials necessary
for self study are also available. A basic level of competence is tested using a slide
show on land, for which a 95% pass mark is required. Expedition Members are then
taken on coral and fish identification dives with staff members and ultimately tested
underwater, requiring a 100% pass to guarantee competence to survey. A similar format

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 3
is followed when Expedition Members are trained to identify the invertebrates and
sessile communities that are also monitored.

Survey Methodology Training: After the Advanced Open Water course, Expedition
Members are given further in-water training in the skills required to survey, with all
participants completing the PADI Coral Reef Research Diver course. This further
training includes the use of a delayed surface marker buoy, practice monitoring, and
participation in monitoring dives in which they are supervised by a member of staff,
ensuring the accuracy of the data recorded and consistency of monitoring techniques.

Health and Safety: The safety of all Expedition Members is paramount to the work of
GVI and continuation of the Seychelles expedition. All EM’s are given a health and
safety brief on the camp as soon as they arrive and conservative diving guidelines are
set and adhered to for the duration of the expedition. In addition, Expedition Members
complete the PADI Emergency First Response first aid course, and are taught how to
administer Oxygen in the event of a diving related incident.

As a complement to the components outlined above a short series of lectures is given on
the marine environment, including basic oceanography, coral reef biology, the
importance of marine research and the threats posed by natural and anthropogenic
disturbance. Additionally, scientists from various organisations make guest lectures on
their research.

2. Coral Recruitment

Introduction
In 1998, a worldwide coral bleaching event decimated much of the coral surrounding the
inner granitic islands of the Seychelles, with hard coral mortality reaching 95% in some
areas (see Spencer et al, 2000). It is thought that this was precipitated by the high
ocean temperatures associated with an El Nino Southern Oscillation event at that time.
Efforts to monitor the regeneration of reefs in the Seychelles were initiated as part of the
Shoals of Capricorn, a three year programme started in 1998 and funded by the Royal
Geographic Society in conjunction with the Royal Society. The SCMRT was set up by
the Shoals of Capricorn in an effort to ensure continuation of the work started, as well as

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 4
manage, with the MPA, the existent marine parks. A predominant focus for the
Seychelles GVI expedition is to aid this monitoring programme and thereby assist in the
construction of management plans that will benefit the future recovery of coral reefs in
the area.

Between the end of the Shoals of Capricorn programme in 2001, and 2004, when the
GVI expedition was set up, monitoring efforts were continued by Reefcare International,
a non-governmental organisation based in Australia. The protocols established by
Reefcare International provided a foundation for those adopted by GVI, differing only in
the more thorough taxonomic criteria adopted by the latter, and logistical constraints that
restrict GVI’s monitoring efforts to the North west coast of Mahé Island.

The data collection conducted by GVI-trained Expedition Members contributes to a long-
term monitoring programme that has now been in progress for ten years. By providing
this support to the SCMRT-MPA, it is hoped that their capacity to monitor, manage and
ultimately conserve the reefs of the Seychelles during this fragile period of regeneration
will be greatly enhanced.

The coral recruitment programme looks at the diversity and density of both hard,
scleractinian coral recruits and specified invertebrates.

Aims

• To monitor the coral reefs at 20 various sites around North West Mahé. 16 of the
sites are surveyed on a bi-annual basis, with a further four surveyed annually.
From the 20 sites in total, ten are carbonate and ten are granitic, and they
describe varying degrees of exposure to waves and current. Accordingly there
are eight each of carbonate and granitic bi-annual sites, and two each of
carbonate and granitic annual sites. GVI uses the methodologies described here
to survey all 16 bi-annual sites, and two of the annual sites (N.B. selection of the
latter is decided by GVI’s local working partners). Therefore, GVI aims to survey
a minimum of 18 sites per ten week phase.
• To estimate the density and diversity of juvenile coral genera.
• To measure the impact of predation and algal grazing on coral recruitment
through abundance estimates of hard coral predators and sea urchins.
ƒ To build upon existing data from previous research in the Seychelles in order to

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 5
allow comparison with earlier survey data and to ascertain recent trends in coral
reef recovery since the mass bleaching event of 1998.

Methods
The expeditions vary between Coral Recruitment Surveying phase and methodologies
and a Coral Reef Monitoring phase and methodology. The Seychelles 083 Expedition
was used for recruitment methodologies, which are described in the following pages.
Using SCUBA research survey teams, all the survey sites listed below were successfully
surveyed during this phase.

Table 2-1: Study sites surveyed by GVI from July 11th to September 19th 2008.

Site Substrate type Survey frequency Site #
Anse Major Reef Carbonate Bi-annual 13a
Baie Ternay Reef Centre Carbonate Bi-annual 9
Baie Ternay Reef North East Carbonate Bi-annual 8
Baie Ternay Reef North West Carbonate Bi-annual 10
Conception Central East Face Carbonate Bi-annual 2
Port Launay South Reef Carbonate Bi-annual 5
Therese North East Carbonate Bi-annual 22
White Villa Reef Carbonate Bi-annual 17
Corsaire Reef Carbonate Bi-annual 16
Willie’s Bay Reef Carbonate Annual 12a
Port Launay West Rocks Granitic Bi-annual 4
Site X Granitic Bi-annual 24
Site Y Granitic Bi-annual 19
Therese North End Granitic Bi-annual 21
Whale Rock Granitic Bi-annual 14
Conception North Point Granitic Bi-annual 1
Willie’s Bay Point Granitic Bi-annual 12b
Therese South Granitic Annual 23
Baie Ternay Lighthouse Granitic Additional 7

All GVI staff and Expedition Members who conducted the surveys were required to learn
all corals on the target species lists. A basic level of competence is tested using a
PowerPoint presentation, for which a 95% pass mark is required. Expedition Members

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 6
are then taken on coral identification dives with staff members and ultimately examined
underwater. A similar format is followed when Expedition Members are trained and
examined in target invertebrates, and fisheries (sea cucumbers, octopus and lobster)
identification prior to participating in the relevant surveys.

In summary, prior to data being included in the coral monitoring database Expedition
Members must be able to achieve 95 % accuracy in a theory exam and 100 % accuracy
in situ for all relevant target species/genera.

Fourteen different Hard Coral families were surveyed and within those, 47 different
genera (these were not recorded down to species level as all identification of corals is
done in situ and considered to be impossible to record accurately to this level in situ).
Nine coral recruitment predators and one additional invertebrate, the Giant Clam
(Tridacna sp.), were surveyed for SCMRT-MPA. The fisheries data GVI records includes
11 different groups of sea cucumbers (seven down to species, four to genus), octopus
(Octopodidae spp), and two different genera of lobster. All target species lists for coral,
invertebrates, and fisheries species (sea cucumbers, octopus and lobster) can be found
in Appendices A, B and C respectively.

2.3.1 Hard Coral Recruitment Quadrates
The capacity for reef regeneration at the survey sites around North West Mahé was
measured by estimating the density of recently recruited scleractinian corals, defined as
any coral 1-5cm in diameter. At each site, density of the different coral genera was
estimated by counting the number of recruits in a minimum of 30 1m2 quadrates: at least
15 “deep” quadrates at a depth of 5.1 to 10.0 metres and at least 15 “shallow” quadrates
at a depth of 1.5 to 5.0 metres. The depths were standardized by chart datum. To
ensure adequate coverage of the reef, quadrates were placed on the substrate in a
haphazard fashion, in accordance with the protocol set out by Reefcare International.

2.3.2 Coral Predation and Algal Grazing Belt Transects
The extent of hard coral predation was measured as the density of invertebrate hard
coral predators at each survey site, namely Drupella spp. of sea snail, the Cushion Star
(Culcita spp.) and Crown of Thorns Starfish (Acanthaster planci). Two 50m transects
were laid at oblique angles to the reef to cover the depth range of that site and to ensure
part of the tape fell within both the “deep” and “shallow” quadrate zones. These depths

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 7
were also standardized by chart datum. Target species falling within 2.5m either side of
the tape were recorded. To monitor algal grazing pressure, the density of sea urchins
was simultaneously recorded.

Results

Scleractinian Recruit Density
Mean recruit density, calculated across all the monitored sites, for the July-September
2008 survey period was 14.51m-2 ±0.37SE (Figure 2-1). There appears to have been an
increase in recruit density over time from August-September 2005 where recruit density
was 5.38m-2, ±0.31SE, there was however, a drop in recruit density from July–
September 2007, where there were 9.56m-2 ±0.29SE.

16

14

12
Recruit Density m-2 (+/-SE)

10

8

6

4

2

n=767 n=626 n=658 n=596 n=651 n=641 n=670
0
Engelhardt 2002 Aug-Sept 05 Jan-Mar 06 July-Sept 06 Jan-Mar 07 July-Sept 07 Jan-Mar 08 July-Sept 08

Survey Period

Figure 2-1: Mean density of scleractinian recruits per m-2 (±SE) of the 1-5cm size class over time, for
sites surveyed around North West Mahé (n= number of quadrates, 24 sites were surveyed in Aug-
Sept05, 18 sites were surveyed in Jan-Mar 06, July-Sept 06, Jan-Mar 07 and July-Sept 07 and 19 sites
were surveyed in Jan-Mar 08).

This data reflects an overall increase in mean coral recruit density since previous
research undertaken utilising the same methodology in 2002 (Engelhardt, 2003), when
mean scleractinian recruit density was 7.47m-2. Differences in the mean recruitment
levels from 2002 to 2005 may have been related to differences in the number of sites

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 8
surveyed between studies. GVI monitors 24 sites across North West Mahé (as described
in Engelhardt, 2003) but does not include the additional 24 sites surveyed in 2002 on
Mahé East which have been shown to possess less diverse and abundant Scleractinian
populations Engelhardt (2003). In addition, significantly greater numbers of recruits have
been recorded for the Jan-March sampling periods.

Size Class Comparisons
Coral recruits were divided into two categories based upon their size; 1–2cm and 2–
5cm. The mean recruit density was greater in the 2-5cm size class than that measured
for the 1-2cm size class in the 2008 survey period (7.58m-2 ±0.15SE and 6.09m-2
±0.16SE, respectively), (Figure 2-2). The lower values for coral recruitment in the 1-2cm
size class are consistent over time and correspond to previous studies in the area
(Engelhardt, 2003).

9

n=1343
8

n=1247
7

n=1284
Recruit Density m (+/-SE)

6
n=1343
-2

5

4 n=767 n=1284 n=1247

3

2
n=767

1 1-2cm
2-5cm

0
2005 2006 2007 2008
Survey Period

Figure 2-2: Mean density of scleractinian recruits per m-2 (±SE) for the 1-2cm and 2-5cm size classes
over time, for all surveyed sites around North West Mahé (n=number of quadrates, 24 sites were
surveyed in Aug-Sept 05, 18 sites were surveyed in Jan-Mar 06, July-Sept 06, Jan-Mar 07 and July-
Sept 2007 and 19 sites were survey in Jan-Mar 08). Data has been pooled for years.

The overall increase in mean recruit density over time is predominantly driven by a
logarithmic increase in density of the 2-5cm size class, from 3.52m-2 (±0.10SE) in
August-September 2005, to 8.4m-2 (±0.22SE) in July-September 2008. The mean

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 9
density of the 1-2cm size class has however, increased more than three-fold between
Aug-Sept 05 (1.86m-2 ±0.08SE) and July-September 2008 (6.13 m-2 ±0.21SE).

2.4.3 Reef Substrate Comparison
A comparison was made between mean scleractinian recruit density on granitic and
carbonate reef habitats. During all survey periods higher recruit densities were
supported on granitic reefs compared with carbonate sites (Figure 2-3). The recruit
density at granitic sites increased almost three-fold from 5.92m-2 ±0.22SE in 2005 to
15.37m-2 ±0.24SE in 2008. The recruits on carbonate sites started at a similar density to
that of Granitic 4.75m-2 ±0.19SE in 2005 but increased to a much lower density of
11.57m-2 ±0.35SE in 2008 (Figure 2-3).

18

n=309
16

n=640
14
n=563
Recruit Density m-2 (+/-SE)

12

n=332

10

8 n=607
n=687

n=480 n=448
6

n=240
4 n=353

2 Granitic
Carbonate

0
Engelhardt 2001 2005 2006 2007 2008
Survey Period

Figure 2-3: Mean density of scleractinian recruits per m-2 (±SE) for the 1-5cm size class over time,
for granitic and carbonate sites around North West Mahé (n=number of quadrates, 24 sites were
surveyed in Aug-Sept 05, 18 sites were surveyed in Jan-Mar 06, July-Sept 06, Jan-Mar 07 and July-
Sept 07 and 19 sites were surveyed in Jan-Mar 08). Data has been pooled for years.

2.4.4 Depth Comparison
A comparison was also made between mean recruit density recorded in shallow (1.5-
5.0m) and deep (5.1-10.0m) zones at the monitoring sites. Recruitment rates have been
consistently higher between 5.1 and 10.0m for all the surveys carried out to date. The

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 10
recent 2008 survey period follows this trend with 12.5m-2 ±0.36SE recruits for shallow
quadrates and 14.76m-2 ±0.39SE for deep quadrates (Figure 2-4).

16
n=671

14
n=613
n=617

12 n=672
Recruit Density m-2 (+/-SE)

10

n=634

n=667
8

n=391

6

n=376
4

2
Shallow
Deep

0
2005 2006 2007 2008
Survey Period

Figure 2-4: Mean density of scleractinian recruits m-2 (±SE) in the 1-5cm size class over time, for
shallow (1.5–5.0m) and deep (5.1–10.0m) sites around North West Mahé (n= number of quadrates, 24
sites were surveyed in Aug-Sept 05, 18 sites were surveyed in Jan-Mar 06, July-Sept 06, Jan-Mar 07
and July-Sept 07 and 19 sites were surveyed in Jan-Mar 08). Data has been pooled for years.

2.4.5 Family Specific Diversity
Genus and family of individual recruits were recorded, and comparisons made of mean
recruit density at family level, over time. Data has been pooled yearly. Faviidae and
Poritidae populations supported the highest densities of recruits (4.63m-2 ±0.14SE and
2.83m-2 ±0.1SE respectively, in 2008), (Figure 2-5). Faviidae, Poritidae and Acroporidae
families showed the highest increase in recruit density since monitoring started in 2005,
with the Acroporidae recruit population increasing five-fold from 0.41m-2 ±0.04SE in
August-September 2005 to 2.1m-2 ±0.09SE in July-September 2008.

Figure 2-6 displays the recruit densities of Faviidae, Poritidae, Acroporidae and
Pocilloporidae families compared to all other families combined, at both carbonate and

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 11
granitic sites. At carbonate sites all scleractinian families showed a significant increase
from 2005 to 2006, after which the increase in recruit density is driven Acroporidae,
Pocilloporidae and all other families. A similar pattern is seen at granitic sites where
there is a high increase in Faviidae and Poritidae recruits between 2005 and 2006, after
which there is an a more gradual but constant increase in Acroporidae, Pocilloporidae
and all other families.

2005
6
2006
2007
5
Recruit Density m-2 (+/-SE)

2008

4

3

2

1

0
ae

ae

d
ae

ae
ae
ae
ae

ae
e

ae
ae

e
ae

ae
ie
da
a

d

iid
id

lid
iid
id
id

id
iid

iid
id

id

id
tif
si

lii
or

lin
rit

or
vi

re

in
en

yl
ng

en

in
us
ric

yl
op
Fa

Po

ul
st

ph
op

cu

ct
co

id
Fu

ph
M
a

ra

er
r

Pe
Ag

Eu
ll

O

Un
tro
Ac

ro
ci

M
de

nd
Po

As
Si

De

Scleractinian Family

Figure 2-5: Mean density of recruits within different scleractinian families (±SE) in the 1-5cm size
class over time, for all sites surveyed around North West Mahé (24 sites were surveyed in Aug-Sept
05, 18 sites were surveyed in Jan-Mar 06, July-Sept 06, Jan-Mar 07 and July-Sept 07 and 19 sites
were surveyed in Jan-Mar 08). Data has been pooled for years.

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 12
All Other Corals
16 Pocilloporidae

Acroporidae
14
Poritidae

12 Faviidae
Recruit density m2

10

8

6

4

2
Carbonate Granitic Carbonate Granitic Carbonate Granitic Carbonate Granitic
0
2005 2006 2007 2008
Survey period

Figure 2-6: Mean density of recruits within different scleractinian families (±SE) in the 1-5cm size
class over time, for carbonate and granitic sites surveyed around North West Mahé (24 sites were
surveyed in Aug-Sept 05, 18 sites were surveyed in Jan-Mar 06, July-Sept 06, Jan-Mar 07 and July-
Sept 07 and 19 sites were surveyed in Jan-Mar 08). Data has been pooled for years.

2.4.6 Coral Predator and Algal Grazing Invertebrate Belt Transects
Echinothrix sp. exhibited the highest mean density of the coral recruitment predators and
algal grazers monitored (0.43m-2) (Table 1). A density of 0.33m-2 Diadema sp. was also
recorded. Previous research has shown that the extent of algal grazing pressure by
urchins can impact the rate of coral recruitment (Engelhardt, 2004). Future analysis,
able to encompass data collected over a long time period, will be able to investigate and
potentially corroborate this finding. Actual coral recruit predators had low levels of
prevalence, with only 199 Drupella sp., 38 Culcita sp., and 2 Acanthaster planci found
across all 21 monitored sites (Table 1). Coral predator and algal grazing invertebrate
populations appear to be stable, as these numbers are similar to past phases.

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 13
Table 2-2: Total and mean density (m-2) of invertebrates recorded along the belt transects at all of
the 19 sites surveyed around North West Mahé.

Total Mean
Species Common name Number Density
Recorded m-2
Diadema sp. Long spine sea urchin 3414 0.33
Short spine sea
Echinothrix sp. 4543 0.43
urchin
Pencil spp. Pencil urchin 241 0.0229
Toxopneustes pileolus Flower urchin 14 0.0013
Cake spp. Cake urchin 0 0
Echinometra sp. Mathae’s sea urchin 42 0.004
Other sea urchins 0 0

Drupella sp. Drupella shells 199 0.0189

Culcita sp. Cushion Star 38 0.0036
Crown of Thorns
Acanthaster planci 2 0.0002
starfish
Other starfish 128 0.0122
Tridacna sp. Giant Clams 19 0.0018

Discussion
The mean density of recruits for the monitored sites increased at the start of GVI’s
monitoring in August-September 2005 until July-September 2008. The apparent fall in
recruit density between 2002 and August-September 2005 may be due to minor
bleaching events that occurred in April 2002 (Wendling et al. 2002) and 2004 (Payet et
al, 2005), and the December 2004 Tsunami (Engelhardt 2008, Pers. Comm), that
potentially suppressed fecundity rates of local populations in the interim.

There appear to be fluctuations in the abundance of recruits with the January-March
survey periods displaying a larger increase and July-September survey periods showing
a more marginal or even a decrease in recruit density. The greater abundance of recruits
is indicative of seasonal fluctuations in reproductive output which are consistent with

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 14
Wallace’s (1985) findings on the annual broadcast spawning of many Scleractinians
across the Great Barrier Reef. Broadcast spawners such as the abundant Acroporids,
participate in the mass annual gamete release in November and December in the
Southern hemisphere (Engelhardt, 2005). The recruitment and growth of such corals
may coincide with the higher appearance of 1-5cm recruits during the early survey
periods.

A number of trends which were highlighted by the previous survey periods as well as by
research conducted prior to the initiation of GVI’s monitoring programme, have
continued; greater mean densities of recruits were found at both granitic sites and deep
zones, compared to carbonate sites and shallow zones. A significant proportion of the
scleractinian recruit population is contributed by the Faviidae and Poritidae families. The
large initial recruit increase of these two families could be attributed to their reliance to
the coral bleaching events of the Seychelles (Goreau, 1998). The almost entire
elimination of other dominant families including Acroporids and Pocilloporids after the
1998 bleaching event (Goreau, 1998; Engelhardt, 2002), would have greatly reduced
competition to Faviidae and poritidae recruitment. However, the fast growing Acroporids
and Pocilloporids are also showing a good recovery after a lag in recruitment. Because
the branching forms of these corals create complex environments for other reef
organisms including fish and invertebrates, the abundance of these family’s recruits can
be used as an indication of the health of coral reefs. Additional surveys to be conducted
in the early part of 2009 will provide a clearer picture of these trends over time.

Further studies should be undertaken to observe what effects, if any, the high numbers
of grazing sea urchins is having on coral recruits. At this time, actual coral predator
numbers are very low over the 21 sites.

3. Turtle Monitoring

Introduction
Five species of marine turtles are found in the Seychelles: the Leatherback
(Dermochelys coriacea), Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys
olivacea), and Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and Green (Chelonia mydas) turtles.
The Leatherback, Loggerhead and Olive Ridley, although common in the Western Indian

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 15
Ocean, are not thought to currently nest in the Seychelles and are rarely seen. In
contrast, the Hawksbill and Green are resident in coastal waters of the Seychelles, nest
on the beaches, and are commonly observed. All five species found in the Seychelles
face the combined threats of poaching, pollution and loss of nesting sites, and are listed
by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as endangered or critically endangered. The
Seychelles is considered one of the most important sites for the critically endangered
Hawksbill turtle (CITES) and represents one of the only localities in the world where
E.imbricata can be observed nesting during the daylight hours.

Detailed research into the biology and migratory behaviour of sea turtle populations is
currently conducted in Australia and the Indo-Pacific region. In the Seychelles, there are
several monitoring programmes also underway. GVI’s turtle monitoring is undertaken on
behalf of Seychelles Centre for Marine Research and Technology – Marine Parks
Authority, the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles (MCSS) and Turtle Action Group
of Seychelles (TAGS) to provide data for a region wide conservation database.
Furthermore, local partners also conduct their own research in the form of in-water turtle
surveys to study the abundance of resident adolescent turtles in their foraging territories
and beach surveys to monitor the behaviour and success of nesting females.

GVI is involved in both types of turtle monitoring around North West Mahé; beach patrols
for nesting turtles are conducted during the nesting season (October-March) and in-
water surveys for resident turtles are conducted year round. In addition to the specified
monitoring, all incidental turtle sightings, recorded whilst on dives, snorkels, and surface
sightings from the boat, are recorded all year round.

GVI’s previous turtle census methodology incorporated U-shaped transects and point
counts as a means to gauge seasonal fluctuations in the resident population of sea
turtles within Baie Ternay, however preliminary results from research conducted by von
Brandis in the Amirantes established that philopatric behaviour is common among
foraging hawksbill turtles, and extensive information on individuals and their energy
budgets can be gathered using relatively non-invasive sampling protocols (R. von
Brandis 2008, Pers. Comm.). With the assistance of local partners, GVI has introduced a
more comprehensive methodology to draw specific conclusions on the identification of
individuals within the marine reserve and their foraging ecology.

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 16
Focal behavioural studies work on the philosophy that an individual, when followed and
observed correctly, can provide a wealth of ecological information that would otherwise
be unnoticed in a simple point count survey. Our objective is to document important
interactions between hawksbill turtles and their environment while obtaining information
of prey preference and the number of individuals displaying site fidelity within the Baie
Ternay Marine Reserve.

The specific aims for the project are as follows:

i. To determine the constituents and preferred food items of hawksbill turtle diets in
the Baie Ternay Marine Reserve;
ii. To identify resident individuals displaying philopatric behaviour in the confines of
Baie Ternay;
iii. To provide further information on the energy budgets of E. imbricata.

3.2 Overall aims of GVI’s marine turtle monitoring program

• To continue monitoring marine turtles on behalf of SCMRT-MPA, MCSS and
TAGS.
• To continue twice weekly in-water focal behavioural SCUBA surveys for resident
turtles in the Baie Ternay Marine Park.
• To continue collecting nesting turtle data on three beaches around North West
Mahé, Grand Anse, Anse Du Riz and Anse Major and on Curieuse Island
National Park. This is to be undertaken during Hawksbill nesting season,
October through March.
• To continue recording all incidental turtle sightings.
• To help the SCMRT-MPA, MCSS and TAGS raise public awareness of the status
of the five species of marine turtles in Seychelles.

3.3 Methods

3.3.1 In-Water Surveys
GVI staff and Expedition Members are trained in turtle identification through lectures and
PowerPoint presentation in which they learn to ID both from seeing the turtle and also

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 17
from the tracks. All are also trained in the necessary survey techniques, thus allowing
them to participate in both the water based and land based surveys.

Focal Behavioural Studies: Expedition members will use SCUBA equipment to
undertake a U-shaped search pattern on the same bearings previously utilised for ‘turtle
snorkel’ methodology. Divers look for focal animals in buddy pairs and, upon finding an
individual, follow and document all behaviours observed. Environmental conditions can
dictate at what distance accurate observations are made without altering normal
behaviour but in general a distance of no closer than 5 metres is required.

A continuous time scale of data is used, i.e. divers will stay with any individual
encountered for as long as possible even if another individual is located. In the event
that another turtle is found, the second member of the buddy pair may start to document
behaviour but at no time are buddy pairs to become separated by more than 2 metres.
Any characteristic markings should be documented and the use of underwater
photography is highly desirable for turtle identification and determining unknown prey
items.

Incidental Turtle Sightings: For every dive undertaken by GVI, a record of turtle
observations is kept. The parameters for each of GVI’s dives were logged, regardless of
whether a turtle was seen, enabling the calculation of turtle frequency per dive and thus
effort-related abundance. In addition to the dive data, incidental sightings included in-
water, non-survey snorkels and surface observations from the boat. The species, sex,
size and behaviour of all turtles sighted was recorded wherever possible.

3.3.2 Beach Surveys

Nesting Turtle Monitoring Project: Beach patrols are conducted on North West Mahé
during the hawksbill turtle nesting season (October to March). This land-based turtle
monitoring work includes beach walks, the documentation of nesting tracks, and
investigation of newly hatched clutches. Beach patrols are carried out weekly at specific
beaches local to the research station (Anse Du Riz, Grand Anse and Anse Major) to
monitor nesting turtle activity. The surveys are conducted on foot, with the survey teams
walking along the upper beach searching for signs of tracks or body pits, on the main
beach, and also within the coastal vegetation. The patrols were carried out on a weekly

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 18
basis and so it was important to carefully study the beach for signs of activities that may
have been partially erased by tides. The patrols and any observations were recorded
using the standard MCSS beach patrol form.

3.4 Results

3.4.1 In-Water Surveys

Incidental Turtle Sightings: Out of the 138 dives completed this phase, 22 turtles were
observed, which accounts to sightings on 13% of dives. Of those 22, 15 were Hawksbill
and 7 were Green turtles. In addition to turtles seen on dives, 31 others were observed
from the boat and non-survey snorkels. 18 of these were identified as Hawksbills, and
the remaining 7 as Green turtles (Chelonia mydas), 6 unidentified.

Focal Behavioural Study: During turtle focal behaviour dives there were 26 turtles
studied all of which were Hawksbills, although there were no observations of feeding.

3.4.2 Beach Surveys
No beach surveys were completed this phase as it is outside of the Hawksbill nesting
season.

3.5 Discussion
The numbers of turtles sighted incidentally by GVI divers was 22 this phase – this
supports the need in North West Mahé to continue ongoing monitoring of feeding and
breeding populations in the area. Preliminary evaluations of our newly trialed focal
behavioral study have been promising. The number of turtles found and observed
throughout the course of this phase suggests that there is scope for long-term
incorporation into the annual monitoring program. A large amount of ecological
information can be obtained using this methodology and it is far less obtrusive than other
means of dietary analysis, such as gut content analysis, which are commonly employed
in the field. Nesting studies are expected to commence again from October until March
thereby coinciding with the Hawksbill turtle breeding season.

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 19
Even though no foraging was recorded of the 26 turtles that were followed, an increasing
level of habituation to divers has been evident (Pers. Obs.), and further sampling is
probably necessary before the natural feeding behaviours can be observed in situ (von
Brandis, R. pers. comm..).

Turtles were sighted on 15% of all dives, 68% of which were identified as E. imbricata.
This information highlights the important ecological role that North West Mahe has for
the future success of critically endangered hawksbill populations within the Seychelles, a
finding supported by the results of previous studies conducted by Haughton et al (2003)
and GVI. With the impending construction of a large scale development on the Baie
Ternay marine park site, determining preferred prey items is more important than ever
as a mechanism for monitoring potentially adverse changes to the benthic community.
The creation of a marine park database for the accurate identification of individuals
displaying philopatric behaviour is also recommended for the future.

4. Whale Shark and Plankton Monitoring

Introduction
The Seychelles is famous for its seasonal fluctuations in the abundance of Whale
Sharks (Rhincodon typus). However, despite their public profile, relatively little is known
about their behaviour or the ecological factors which influence their migratory patterns.

A Whale Shark monitoring programme was started by volunteers in 1996 and is now the
cornerstone of a lucrative eco-tourism operation run by the MCSS. The MCSS has been
a key advocate of elevating the profile and status of R.typus, and protecting them within
Seychelles waters. However, the effectiveness of this initiative is limited by our
understanding of Whale Shark biology, which is not adequate for making informed
decisions on a regional approach to Whale Shark conservation and management. From
2001-2003, a tagging programme was initiated to study migratory patterns as part of the
Seychelles Marine Ecosystem and Management Project (SEYMEMP), and it is now clear
the sharks seen in the Seychelles are not residents, but range throughout the Indian
Ocean. The oceanographic or biological conditions that determine the movements are
unclear. It is possible however that the sharks follow seasonal variations in the
abundance of plankton, on which they feed.

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 20
MCSS initiated a plankton monitoring programme in conjunction with the tagging and
incident recording surveys in an attempt to correlate the frequency of Whale Shark
sightings with plankton levels. The plankton sampling has been run by MCSS since
2003, in conjunction with their ongoing Whale Shark monitoring and tagging
programmes.

GVI started to assist MCSS in the collection of plankton data in July 2004, and have
since carried out the survey on a weekly basis. In addition, GVI also makes incidental
recordings of whale sharks which include digital photographs for inclusion on the
EcOcean identification database.

Aims

• To continue recording incidental Whale Shark sightings and to provide the data
to MCSS.
• To continue the weekly plankton sampling programme at Grouper Point.
• To provide digital photographs for Indian Ocean wide R.typus identification.

Methods
GVI staff and Expedition Members are trained in the observational and recording
techniques required to collect data for both the Incidental Whale Shark Sightings and the
Plankton Monitoring Survey, in accordance with MCSS’s formal specimen sampling and
recording procedures.

Incidental Whale Shark Sightings: When a Whale Shark is sighted, as much
information as possible is recorded, by the boat driver and snorkellers or divers as
appropriate. The time, date, GPS, number of animals, size of the individuals, sex,
distinguishing features, behaviour and tag numbers if present are recorded.
Photographs are also taken whenever possible of the left and right side of the thorax
from the base of the pectoral fin to behind the gill area.

Plankton Sampling: Once every week, on a Wednesday, 5 plankton sample tows are
carried out to the North Western side of Grouper Point, just outside of Cap Ternay
Marine Park, between the hours of 09:00 hrs and 11:00hrs.

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 21
The tows are carried out along a north-westerly course heading from Grouper Point out
to sea. In order to sample over a range of depths, the net is let out a further 5m every
30 seconds (up to 45 metres). Samples are collected in the ‘cod end’ of the net,
decanted into a receptacle and preserved in formalin.

After the survey and the filtering process, they are passed to MCSS for measurement of
wet weight and classification of species. Environmental conditions are also noted (sea
state, cloud cover and underwater visibility).

Results
Over the 10 week expedition there has been one Whale Shark sighting from GVI’s
research vessel. The plankton samples were passed to MCSS for analysis.

Discussion
GVI will await the results of the plankton analysis from MCSS, to correlate plankton
composition with presence/absence and abundance of Whale Sharks. Recording of
incidental Whale Shark sightings and weekly plankton tows will continue.

5. Fisheries Assessment

Introduction
Lobster, octopus and sea cucumber monitoring has been incorporated into our coral
recruitment surveying programme at the request of the Seychelles Fishing Authority, to
assist in their wider ranging research programmes. This data is handed to the SFA and
will contribute to a large scale SFA sea cucumber monitoring programme, being carried
out across the Seychelles.

Aims

• To train Expedition Members in background biology and target species
identification, together with relevant methodologies.
• To record incidental sightings of octopus and lobster during all survey and
recreational dives.

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 22
• To undertake sea cucumber, lobster, and octopus monitoring in conjunction with
the coral reef research in support of an ongoing survey by the SFA.

Methods

All GVI staff and Expedition Members who conducted the surveys were required to learn
11 different groups of sea cucumbers (7 down to species, 4 to genus), octopus
(Octopodidae spp), and 2 different genera of lobster. A basic level of competence is
tested using a PowerPoint presentation, for which a 95% pass mark is required. EM’s
are then taken on identification dives with staff members and ultimately examined in situ
underwater requiring a pass mark of 100% accuracy. The relevant target identification
list is described below and show in full in Appendix C.

During the coral predator / algal grazer transects carried out to record target species
density during coral recruitment monitoring surveys, one of the divers in the buddy pair
recorded any sightings of lobster, sea cucumber, and octopus. The two transects at
each site were 5m x 50m long. Incidental sightings of lobster and octopus are also
recorded on all non-survey dives.

Results

5.4.1 Sea Cucumbers
In total, 216 sea cucumbers were recorded, the most common of which was
Pearsonothuria graeffei (mean density of 0.0084m-2 ±0.0095SE across 21 sites
surveyed) (Figure 5-1). Stichopus sp., Bohadashia sp. and Holothuria artra were also
well represented (mean density of 0.0059 m-2 ±0.0002SE, 0.0022 m-2 ±0.0046SE and
0.0019 m-2 ±0.0001SE and respectively). These four sea cucumber species are
consistently the most abundant around the sites surveyed.

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 23
0.009
* Commercial Species
0.008
Mean Density m-2 (+/-SE)
0.007
0.006
0.005
0.004
0.003
0.002
0.001
0

)
Pe a
as

ax
a
tra

lis
i

.

.

en ar d
.
ffe

at
sp
sp

ilv
sp

an
an

bi
ar

ct
ae

og

nt
a
us

ia

no
an

un
Ac ria

yg

a
gr

sc
ch
p

ot
op
r ia
ho

op
hu

a

fu
ia

ds

.(
t

sc
no

hu
ur

tin
ic

ot

sp
ria
ha

el
St

fu
h

ot
ol

le

Th
Bo

hu
ot

ria
H

he

ol

ia
on

ot

*H

hu
r
*T

hu
ol
s

ot
ar

*H

ot

ol
Pe

ol

*H
*H
Species

Figure 5-1: Mean Density of Holothurians (m-2 ±SE) around North West Mahé (21 sites, two transects
were surveyed at each site).

5.4.2 Lobsters
There were no lobsters observed during the surveyed transects. In total there were
fourteen incidental sightings of lobsters on non-survey dives or whilst snorkelling.
Thirteen of the lobster sightings were the Spiny Lobster (Panulirus spp) variety, while
one was the slipper lobster (Parribacus caledonicus).

5.4.3 Octopus
There were three octopus sighted during coral recruitment survey dives, and twenty one
incidental sightings on non-survey dives or whilst snorkelling. All octopus sightings were
of the Common Reef Octopus (Octopus cyanea).

Discussion
All data from this survey has been passed to the Seychelles Fishing Authority for
inclusion in their wider research programme. GVI will wait to receive the results of

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 24
analysis from these data and will continue monitoring for these target species and
genera.

6. Cetacean Sightings

Introduction

Cetaceans are frequently sighted from the boat within GVI’s area of operation.
Cetaceans are considered to be under threat in many parts of the world and in response
to this threat, a national database of cetacean sightings, The Seychelles Marine
Mammal Observatory (SMMO), has been set up. GVI records all incidental cetacean
sightings using the MCSS standard sighting form and pass all data to the MCSS for
inclusion in the national database.

Aims

• To assist in the relative monitoring of the populations of cetaceans within coastal
Seychelles waters.
• To conserve the existing populations of cetaceans in Seychelles waters.

Methods
GVI staff and Expedition Members were trained in the identification of cetaceans and
were supplied with additional identification materials.

Incidental cetacean encounters were recorded using the standard MCSS Cetacean
Sightings form. Data recorded included date, time, location, environmental conditions,
abundance, distinguishing features, size, behaviour and species. Photographs were
taken whenever possible to assist identification and contribute to a catalogue of
individuals.

Results

Cetaceans were recorded on fifteen separate occasions. A minimum of nineteen
individuals were seen on these occasions. Only one species was positively identified,

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 25
the Common Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), which accounted for 100% of all
recordings.

Discussion
Due to weather conditions, the low elevation of the survey vessel, and the distance at
which most of the cetaceans are observed, it is a concern that positive identification will
not always be obtained, as has been the case in previous survey periods. It is
suggested that the skills and experience of identifying cetaceans in situ may also be
limited due to the range of subjects the trained volunteers have to master in a short
period of time. The results prove the presence of this species in the coastal waters of
North West Mahé, but if additional focus is sought in the area of research through GVI's
resources then a reduction in focus elsewhere may be necessary to give staff and
Expedition Members additional time and experience with in situ cetacean identification.

7. Satellite Camps & Community Development

Curieuse Island

7.1.1 Introduction
Curieuse Island is situated to the North of Mahé, close to Praslin. The island and its
surrounding waters are protected as National Terrestrial and Marine Park, and is only
one of a few places on the planet where a population of Aldabra Giant tortoises lives
freely. It is also one of only two places where the Coco-de-Mer, an endemic species,
grows naturally. The island and reserve serves as a major tourist attraction and
economic resource for the Seychelles, and also suffers from poaching of its resources.

Upon the island is the main Ranger Station for SCMRT-MPA, where the logistical
operations of the reserve are based. In August of 2005, GVI established a small satellite
camp on the island to work with SCMRT-MPA to develop a coral reef monitoring
programme, in line with the research conducted by GVI on SCMRT-MPA’s behalf in
North West Mahé, thus expanding the geographical range of the survey area.

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 26
The intention is to use the programme for local capacity building. GVI and SCMRT-MPA
will use the programme to create a skills exchange between the rangers, with their vast
knowledge of the area and multitude of skills, and GVI staff and Expedition Members,
with their knowledge of computers, databases, dive instruction, first aid skills, and
knowledge of target identification for species and genera of the region.

A historical Leper colony is found on Curieuse Island. It is a shared vision of GVI and
SCMRT-MPA to restore some of the old houses to their original state as part of a
visitor’s attraction. At the beginning of 2007, GVI broke ground to begin expanding one
of the old leper houses, in which GVI currently resides. This will enable a higher number
of GVI personnel to be on the island at any one time, therefore allowing more man
power for training and surveying purposes.

Coral Reef Monitoring and Coral Recruitment surveying was initiated around Curieuse
and Praslin Islands in 2001 and continued until 2004 by Reefcare International. GVI has
undertaken and hopes to expand and continue this monitoring programme during 2008,
and beyond, on behalf of SCMRT-MPA.

Aims
• To continue a presence on Curieuse, sending six Expedition Members and two to
three staff members to the island each week.
• Complete extensions and improvements to GVI’s Curieuse house so the capacity
of the marine research programme can be increased to 12 Expedition Members
and the infrastructure improved to accommodate a larger diving programme.
• To continue the skills exchange between the SCMRT-MPA and GVI.
• To allow for immediate local capacity building on a scale larger than GVI's other
initiatives feasibly allow.
• To continue and expand the coral reef research programme on Curieuse by GVI.
• To supply personnel to assist the rangers when need be, with anything from
research programmes to manual labour.
• To establish training sites to be used for local capacity building, GVI personnel
and ranger training in the future.
• To census and map Coco-de-Mer populations across the Island.

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 27
Methods
The house expansion continued this phase as GVI volunteers spent a total of 7 weeks
on the island. In addition to the renovation process, GVI was able to start a self
sufficient diving programme on the island in April 2007, with five marine sites being
surveyed following the same Coral Reef Monitoring and Coral Recruitment methodology
carried out on Mahé, detailed above in section 3.1. A record of all mega-fauna seen in
the area was also recorded for all dives and snorkels.

Due to this monitoring programme still being in its infancy on Curieuse, it has not been
determined as of yet how often sites will be monitored and which of the previously
surveyed sites by Reefcare International will be feasible for GVI to undertake. Listed
below are the five sites monitored by GVI this year.

Carbonate sites:
Anse Petit Cours
Coral Garden (It should be noted, due to the reef contours, it is only possible to
complete deep quadrates and deep sections of the belt transects at this site.)

Granitic sites:
Curieuse West Rock
St Pierre East Rock
Curieuse North Centre Rock

7.1.4 Results

7.1.4.1 Scleractinian Recruit Density
Mean recruit density, calculated across all the monitored sites, for the July-September
2008 survey period was 11.64m-2 ±0.42SE. These data reflect a sustained increase in
mean coral recruit density since previous research undertaken utilising the same
methodology both in 2002 (Engelhardt, 2003), when mean scleractinian recruit density
was 7.47m-2, and when GVI’s monitoring began in July-September 2007, where mean
recruit density was 8.22m-2 ±0.35SE. This relates an increase in scleractinian coral
recruit density, however it should be noted that GVI’s work on Curieuse – Praslin area
was carried out over 5 sites during July-September 2007 and the present survey period,
and 4 sites during January-March 08, whereas, the study undertaken by Engelhardt

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 28
(2003) was carried out over a total of 48 sites around Mahé and on other islands. The
Curieuse results represent a slightly lower mean recruit density than surveys carried out
for this survey period around North West Mahé (14. 51m-2 ±0.37SE, Figure 2-1). Figure
7-1 shows the mean density m-2 for each site since monitoring began in July-September
2007. All sites except for Coral garden show a significant increase in recruit density
from the first survey period. The carbonate site Anse Petit Cours shows the largest
increase in recruit density from 7.47m-2 ±0.36SE in July-September 2007 to 6.76m-2
±0.34SE in July-September 2008 (Figure 7.1).

16 July-Sept 07
Jan-Mar 08
July-Sept 08
14

12
Recruit Density m (+/-SE)

10
-2

8

6

4

2

n=17
n=31

n=30

n=31

n=31

n=30
n=30

n=31

n=20
n=33

n=30

n=30
n=30

n=18
0
Curieuse North Curieuse West St Piere South East Anse Petit Cours Coral Garden
Center Rock Rock

Site

Figure 7-1: Mean density of scleractinian recruits per m-2 (±SE) of the 1-5cm size class for all
surveyed sites around Curieuse and Praslin (n= number of quadrates, 5 sites were surveyed in July-
September 2007 and July-September 2008, 4 sites in January-March 2008).

7.1.4.2 Size Class Comparisons
Coral recruits were divided into two categories based upon their size: 1–2cm and 2–
5cm. The mean recruit density was greater in the 2-5cm size class than the 1-2cm size
class in July-September 2008 (6.79m-2 ±0.28SE and 4.84m-2 ±0.22SE, respectively)
(Figure 7-2).

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 29
8

Recruit Density m -2 (+/-SE)
7
6
5
1-2cm
4
2-5cm
3
2
1
n=139 n=139 n=113 n=113 n=140 n=140
0
July-Sept 07 Jan-Mar 08 July-Sept 08
Survey Period

Figure 7-2: Mean density of scleractinian recruits per m-2 (±SE) for the 1-2cm and 2-5cm size classes
for all surveyed sites around Curieuse and Praslin (n=number of quadrates, 5 sites were surveyed
July-September 2007 and July-September 2008, 4 sites were surveyed in January-March 2008).

7.1.4.3 Reef Substrate Comparison
A comparison was made between mean scleractinian recruit density on granitic and
carbonate reef habitats. Surveys carried out over the last six survey periods around
North West Mahé have shown consistently higher recruit densities on granitic substrate
(Figure 2.3), whereas the sites around Curieuse and Praslin show no significant
difference between habitats (Figure 7-3).

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 30
14

Recruit Density m -2 (+/-SE)
12

10

8 Carbonate
6 Granitic

4

2
n=48 n=91 n=50 n=63 n=47 n=93
0
July-Sept 07 Jan-Mar 08 July-Sept 08
Survey Period

Figure 7-3: Mean density of scleractinian recruits per m-2 (±SE) for the 1-5cm size class, for granitic
and carbonate sites around Curieuse and Praslin (n=number of quadrates, 5 sites were surveyed in
July-September 2007 and July-September 2008, 4 were surveyed in January-March 2008).

7.1.4.4 Depth Comparison
A comparison was also made between mean recruit density recorded in shallow (1.5-
5.0m) and deep (5.1-10.0m) zones at the monitoring sites. Surveys carried out over the
last six survey periods around North West Mahé have consistently found a higher recruit
density in deep zones compared to shallow zones (Figure 2-4). During the first two
survey periods around Curieuse and Praslin there was little difference in recruit density
with depth, whereas there was a slightly higher density in the deep zones during the
latest survey period, consistent with the data of North West Mahé (Figure 7-4).

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 31
14

Recruit Density m -2 (+/-SE)
12

10

8 Deep
6 Shallow

4

2
n=78 n=61 n=65 n=48 n=78 n=62
0
July-Sept 07 Jan-Mar 08 July-Sept 08
Survey Period

Figure 7-4: Mean density of scleractinian recruits m-2 (±SE) in the 1-5cm size class for shallow (1.5–
5.0m) and deep (5.1–10.0m) sites around Curieuse and Praslin (n= number of quadrates, 5 sites were
surveyed in July-September 2007 and July-September 2008, 4 sites were surveyed in January-March
2008).

7.1.4.5 Family Specific Diversity
Genus and family of individual recruits were recorded, and comparisons made of mean
recruit density at family level. Faviidae and Poritidae populations consistently supported
the highest densities of recruits (3.6m-2 ±0.31mSE and 2.77m-2 ±0.2SE respectively for
July-September 2008). Acroporidae and Pocilloporidae families are also well
represented in Curieuse and Praslin (1.69m-2 ±0. 18mSE and 1.47m-2 ±0.17SE
respectively for July-September 2008), (Figure 7-5). Poritidae recruits have shown the
greatest increase from 1.83m-2 ±0.19mSE in July-September 2007.

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 32
July-Sept 07
4.5 Jan-Mar 08
4.0 July-Sept 08

Recruit Density m (+/-SE) 3.5
3.0
-2

2.5
2.0
1.5
1.0
0.5
0.0

ae
ae

e
ae

e

ae

F
e

ae

e
e
e

ae

e
e

da

ii da
iid a
da

i ida

ME
da

i da

da

l liid
i nid
rid

ei d

vii d
ci id

yl li
ri ti

ss i
ori

u lin

ng
en

c tin
opo

hy
s tr

rul
a ri

Fa

ph
Po
rop

Mu
co

Fu
rop
Oc
era

Me
Pe
Ag

Eu
c ill
Ac

tro

nd
Po

Sid
As

De
Scleractinian Family

Figure 7-5: Mean density of recruits within different scleractinian families (±SE) in the 1-5cm size
class over time, at all sites surveyed around Curieuse and Praslin (5 sites were surveyed July-
September 07 and July-September 2008, 4 sites were surveyed in January-March 08).

7.1.5 Discussion

As there are only three survey periods around Curieuse so far, there has been little time
to show any trends in coral recruitment. However, the data does not correlate with
findings from surveys performed around the North West of Mahé. Granitic sites do not
show a consistent higher density of scleractinian coral recruits compared to carbonate
sites, as seen in the North West of Mahé. The recruitment densities between deep and
shallow zones were very similar around Curieuse and Praslin, compared to North West
Mahé which shows consistently higher densities in deep zones. One similarity between
survey areas is the higher number of recruits coming into the 2-5cm size class compared
with 1-2cm size class, as displayed in the first and latest survey period. Another
similarity is the predominance of coral recruits falling into the Poritidae and Faviidae
families. The data gathered so far does not show a reason for these findings; it may be
determined by physical factors or substrate conditions. Further surveys in the area

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 33
should be completed using this methodology. GVI will under take this for SCMRT-MPA
early in 2009.

8. Community Development

8.1 National Scholarship Programme
The National Scholarship Programme is directly funded by GVI Expedition Members
payments and aims to increase long term capacity building in country. National recruits,
such as rangers, researchers and students are selected by the local partner
organisations, and are brought into either the 5 week or 10 week programme as feasible.
The National Scholars are treated the same as all other Expedition Members and are
expected to learn their target species and fully participate in all surveys and activities. In
order for the SCMRT-MPA to continue and build upon the research conducted by GVI,
scholars are invited to join every expedition from the pool of SCMRT-MPA staff. This
programme has already proved highly successful with several scholars going on to
return to SCMRT-MPA and gain promotions. Unfortunately there were no SCMRT-MPA
research assistants available to join the expedition at Cap Ternay this phase, but it has
been arranged for a scholar who learnt the coral genera and studied the recruitment
methodology in 2007, to return to Cap Ternay for another five weeks to undergo GVI’s
fish species training, along with two new research assistants.

8.2 International School Work
Due to the school holiday lasting from July to September, GVI’s work with the
International School did not take place this phase. Once the school year resumes, the
weekly marine themed lessons taught on Port Launay beach by GVI Expedition
Members, will start again. However, EM’s have been hard at work this phase
reorganising the existing lesson plans and creating five new lesson plans to start
teaching next phase; Outer Islands of the Seychelles, Coral Reefs, Introduction to the
Marine Environment, Cold Environments and Invertebrates. Developments have also
been made to expand teaching to another school on Praslin Island in 2009. It is still
strongly believed that community education is a vital part of the expedition and an aspect
that needs development to include adults in addition to the children taught.

8.3 Annual Seychelles Regatta

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 34
GVI strives to take an active role to benefit the community and take part in local events.
On 30th and 31st of August 2008, the Seychelles held their annual Regatta event in Beau
Vallon to raise funds for local charities. This year GVI brought enthusiastic Expedition
Members willing to face paint and work the infamous sponge throwing game board,
which has been one of the highest money makers during the previous Regatta events.
Over the weekend GVI raised 2,686 rupees for the Seychellois community.

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 35
9. References

Engelhardt, U (2003). SEYMEMP Interim Report No 3. Report on scientific field studies
and training activities. Reefcare International Pty Ltd, Technical Report, Townsville,
Australia, 46pp.

Engelhardt, U., 2004. The status of scleractinian coral and reef-associated fish
communities 6 years after the 1998 mass coral bleaching event. Reefcare International
Pty Ltd, Technical Report, Townsville, Australia, 129pp.

Engelhardt, U (2005). The Biodiversity Characteristics and Ecological Status of the
Marine and Terrestrial Environments of D’Arros Island and St Joseph Atoll, Amirantes,
Seychelles. D’Arros Research Centre Technical report No.1, 101pp

Goreau, T.T (1998). Coral recovery form bleaching in Seychelles December 1998.
Unpublished report.

Global Vision International, 2007. Seychelles Expedition Report – January to March
2007. GVI (unpublished), 38pp.

Haughton, J.D.R., Callow, M.J., & Hays, G.C. (2003). Habitat utilisation by juvenile
hawksbill turtles (Eretmohelys imbricata, Linnaeus, 1766) around a shallow water coral
reef. Journal of Natural History 37: 1269-1280.

Spencer T., Teleki K. A., C. Bradshaw and Spalding M. D., 2000. Coral bleaching in the
Southern Seychelles during the 1997 – 1998 Indian Ocean Warming event. Marine
Pollution Bulletin 40(7): 569-586.

Payet, R., Bijoux, J. & Adam, P-A., 2005. Status and Recovery of Carbonate and
Granitic Reefs in the Seychelles Inner Islands and Implications for Management, in:
Souter, D. & Lindén, O. (Eds.), Coral Reef Degradation in the Indian Ocean. CORDIO,
pp. 132-145.

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 36
Wallace, CC (1985). Seasonal Peaks and Annual Fluctuations in Recruitment of
Juvenile Scleractinian Corals. Marine Ecology Progress Series 21: 289-298.

Wendling, B., Engelhardt, U., Adam, P.A., Rosin, G., Alcindor, R., Zialor, V. & Louange,
A. (2002). Bleaching Event in the Inner Granitic Island of Seychelles in April-June 2002,
Impact of Branch Coral Recruits (Acopora spp., Pocilliopora spp., Faviidae spp.). Report
for the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Seychelles (MENR), pp1-9.

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 37
10. Acknowledgments
We kindly thank the following expedition members for their valuable contribution to this
monitoring phase.

Tim Kirkpatrick, Katy Seto, Genevieve Gammage,Rachel Mowll, Ben Herington, Richard
Kearton, Rosie Simpson, Hazel Long, Claire Collis, Alex Feck, Alice Rietveld, Aileen
McManus, Brenton Goodhart, Chris Baynes, Ciara McCarten, Emily Cray, Emma
Silverton, Emma Carmen Snuggs, Julia Goggins, Julia Chapman, Katie laming, Katie
Draper, Lisa Trussler, Mark Ellinor, Matthew Keetly Michael Harris, Sahil Kejriwal, Sam
davenport, Sarah Flinn Campbel, Val Eaton, Wayne Lee, Alex Moon, Janice Houghton,
Jenny Caston, Shelly Harper, Patrick Assouad, Shawn Morgan and Tim Howe.

11. Appendices

Appendix A. Target Coral Identification List

Acroporidae Fungiidae Merulinidae
Acropora Fungia Merulina
Montipora Cycloseris Hydnophora
Astreopora Diaseris Faviidae
Pocilloporidae Herpolitha Montastrea
Pocillopora Podabacia Favia
Stylophora Siderastreidae Favites
Seriatopora Siderastrea Cyphastrea
Poritidae Pseudosiderastrea Plesiastrea
Porites Psammacora Leptastrea
Goniopora Astrocoeniidae Diploastrea
Alveopora Stylocoeniella Platygyra
Dendrophylliidae Agariciidae Leptoria
Turbinaria Pavona Oulophyllia
Euphyllidae Leptoseris Goniastrea
Physogyra Gardineroseris Echinopora
Mussidae Coeloseris Pectiniidae
Lobophyllia Pachyseris Pectinia
Symphyllia Oculinidae Mycedium

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 38
Acanthastrea Galaxea Echinophyllia
Blastomussa

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 39
Appendix B. Target Invertebrate Identification List

Sea Stars - (Asteroidea)
Culcita sp. Cushion Sea Star
Acanthaster planci Crown of Thorns Sea Star
Any Additional Sea Star Species
Sea Urchins (Echinoidea)
Diadema spp. Long Spine Black Sea Urchins
Echinometra spp. Mathae’s Sea Urchin
Echinothrix spp. Short Spine Black/Banded SeaUrchins
Pencil Urchin
Toxopneustes sp. Flower Urchin
. Cake Urchin
Any additional Sea Urchin Species
Bivalves (Bivalvia)
Tridacna spp. Giant Clams
Univalves (Gastropoda)
Drupella spp. Drupella Shells

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 40
Appendix C. Target Fisheries Identification List

Sea Cucumbers (Holothuroidea)
Holothuria artra Lollyfish
Holothuria fuscopunctata Elephant Trunk
Holothuria fuscogilva White teatfish
Holothuria nobilis Black teatfish
Holothuria sp.* Pentard
Bohadschia spp.
Actinopyga spp.
Actinopyga mauritiana Yellow Surf Fish
Stichopus spp.
Thelenota ananas Prickly Redfish
Pearsonothurian graeffei Flowerfish
Thelenota anax Royal / Amberfish
Octopus (Octopodidae)
Octopus sp. Common Reef Octopus
Lobsters (Paninuridae & Scyllidae)
Panulirus sp. Spiny Lobsters
Parribacus sp./Scyllarides sp. Slipper Lobsters
* Taxonomy status uncertain

© Global Vision International – 2008 Page 41