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GVI Seychelles

June 2015, Issue 7

Spring 2016, Issue 4

Inside this Issue

Introduction

Cooling Sea Temperatures

Earth Day 2015

Sea Turtle Symposium

Raft Race 4 Rupees

GIF Shark Awareness


Campaign

Q2 Summary

National Day Show

Presidents Village

Cooling sea temperatures

The second quarter is now behind us and

The marine conservation expedition at Cap

as the prevailing winds began to switch to

we are already halfway through the year. It

Ternay is run in collaboration with the

the south east. This provided much needed

has been another busy period for the GVI

Seychelles National Parks Authority, and

relief for the corals of Mah and slowly

team (when isnt it?) with plenty of

monitors coral reef recovery in northwest

individual coral colonies began to regain

activities on Mah and Curieuse Island.

Mah following the mass coral bleaching event

their

From film crews and fundraising, to shark

of 1998. While many of the reefs that form our

returned. Thankfully this year there was

awareness and shark tagging. As we look

study sites have shown excellent recovery and

minimal coral mortality from temperature

ahead to the second half of the year we

resilience over the years, they do still remain

induced bleaching. However, with the

would like to thank all our volunteers, staff

vulnerable to future bleaching events.

effects of climate change becoming more

and partners for making the first half of


2015 such a success!

The month of May is usually when sea surface


temperatures peak around the inner granitic
islands, subsequently it is the time when coral
bleaching is most likely to occur and is always a
period of concern.
This year was no exception with coral
bleaching observed in numerous coral genera.
Bleaching was more severe in shallow water
less than 5m in depth, however bleached
colonies were observed in depths of up to
15m.
June brought with it cooling sea temperatures

colour

as

their

zooxanthellae

pronounced, and the likelihood of a severe


El Nio event on the horizon, the reefs
still face many more pressures.

GVI SEYCHELLES

Earth day 2015

Our vegetable garden helps reduce the amount of grocery


shopping we have to bring from Praslin (currently we are growing
Tomatoes, Pak Choi, Papaya, Chilli and Aubergine, amongst
others).
A whirlwind of a morning and a huge success! We hope youll
come back next year, Friends of Valle de Mai, and keep up your
great work on Praslin. Wed also like to send a huge thank you to
principal partner Seychelles National Parks Authority, who
provided all the boat transport without you it wouldnt have
been possible!

The first Earth Day hails back to 1970s America; since this time it
has evolved from college sit-ins aimed to provoke changes in national

On Mah Earth Day was celebrated alongside various other local

environmental policy to a global event represented in 192 countries

organizations. We gathered in Port Glaud for a small Earth Day

with over one billion participants! The Earth Day Network who

Festival alongside the Seychelles National Parks Authority, Port

coordinate the annual event works with over 50,000 partners.

Glaud Environment Club, Sustainability for Seychelles, Green


Island Foundation, Plant Conservation Action Group and others.

Here at the GVI Seychelles Curieuse Island Conservation


programme, we spend our days chasing all manner of flora and fauna

The GVI stand had several exciting activities but the highlight for

across Curieuse Island National Park, all in the name of research and

many was the dunk tank and SCUBA equipment which was set up

conservation. However at this special time of year, when the world is

for the kids to try breathing underwater for the first time. We

coming together to highlight the significance of the natural

definitely have some future SCUBA divers ahead of us! Many of

environment, we jump at the chance to share some of our knowledge

the kids from the President's Village Children's Home also came

and enthusiasm! This year was no exception and we had the privilege

along, some of whom were brave enough to try on the gear and

of hosting some of the Seychelles youngest eco-champions, from the

dunk their faces in the tank.

Friends of Valle de Mai school club.

For those who weren't too sure about the dunk tanks there was the

The Friends of Valle de Mai is a school environmental club based

opportunity to 'design your own fish,' and some of them got quite

on Praslin and is assisted by Seychelles Islands Foundation (managers

creative! Our volunteers also took some adventurous visitors out

of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Valle de Mai and Aldabra

into the shallows on a reef safari with the Port Glaud Environment

Atoll).

Club.

On Wednesday 22nd April, around 30 Praslinois schoolchildren, led

A big thanks to all that organized this great event, and for all the

by Miss Maria Brioche (SIF), made the 1km trip across the water

young visitors who took the plunge with dive equipment for the

from Praslin to Curieuse to visit our base camp and learn about

first time!

sustainable development. In true GVI style, there was plenty of fun


to be had along the way for both children and adults alike - who says
you need to grow up?
Our guests received a guided tour of camp from GVI staff, learning
about our renewable energy supply and the rainwater collection
systems which ensure we dont go thirsty, and provide us with fairly
regular freshwater showers luxury!

35th annual symposium on sea turtle

drawing attention to the

biology & conservation

biological consequences of
climate change.
Other talks covered topics
on

genetics,

biology,
health,

population

physiology
in-water

nesting
conservation,

and

biology,
biology,

management

and policy, fisheries and


threats, education, outreach,
and advocacy. There were also poster presentations on Monday,
Tuesday, and Wednesday, allowing Cheryl, and many others, to share
their research. Many people were amazed that the small amount of
beach area on Curieuse held so many hawksbill nests. There were also
other people present who had worked with GVI in Costa Rica and
The International Sea Turtle Society is a non-profit organization that

Mexico, and they all were very positive about the work GVI was

gathers annually for a symposium, bringing people together from all

doing.

over the world to share their sea turtle research and conservation
efforts. The symposium includes more than 1000 representatives
from over 80 countries. It is an opportunity to network, share
stories and research, present innovative ideas, and discuss challenges,
all with the common goal of protecting sea turtles. In January, our
abstract for a poster presentation was accepted, so Cheryl Sanchez,
GVI Seychelles Science Coordinator on Curieuse Island, headed to

Cheryl really enjoyed the experience of visiting Turkey, meeting and


networking with sea turtle researchers and biologists from all over the
world, and promoting the working GVI and SNPA are undertaking on
seat turtles in Seychelles. Curieuse Island may be small, but its
importance as a hawksbill turtle nesting site certainly wont be
overlooked!

Dalaman, Turkey, in April to talk about Curieuse Island and the


work GVI Seychelles and the Seychelles National Parks Authority are
undertaking on sea turtles.
The two days before the start of the symposium, were full of
workshops and meetings. Sunday was the Africa regional meeting,
where people from West Africa, East Africa, and from islands off
Africa (Cape Verde, Reunion, etc.) convened to discuss the specific
issues and also the success stories of this massive region. Discussions
included the importance of beach temperatures and having regionwide baseline information in order to monitor changes as the climate
changes.
The three-day symposium officially started on 20th April. The
keynote speaker opened the symposium focusing solely on climate
change, sea turtles and how to use sea turtles as a flagship for

The poster presented at the 35th Annual Symposium


on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation

Raft Race 4 rupees

The teams lined up at the start line.

The winning SNPA team the Marine Parks Pirates


who completed the course in a record time.

For the fourth year running, GVI Seychelles and SNPA have met

Just two days later, SNPA and GVI met again at Cap Ternay

each other on the Bay Ternay beach to vie for Champion of the

for a teambuilding event, this time with more of the National

Bay, as if we stood a chance! The event has become a traditional

Parks' staff including the Forestry and Marine Parks divisions.

way to raise funds for the President's Village Children's Home,


where each competing raft team must donate at least 500 rupees,
and as a GVI team we aimed to reach over 1000 British Pounds in
donations. For weeks our volunteers plotted and prepped the
ultimate design for their homemade raft, which had to be made
from scratch, using recycled materials and without any motor or
boat parts. A few designs failed, such as the brilliantly crafted
ceiling

fan-turned-propeller,

or

the

bathtub-bedframe

predicament, while others stayed as piles of bamboo and buoys


until the last minute, only to grow into a perfectly constructed
raft.
As the day arrived some of our four rafts were still facing lastminute repairs, while other teams spent their spare time fashioning
cushions to the bamboo seats or softening the handles of their oars.
Congratulations are due for the SNPA teams, who won first,
second and third place. Although it was not a huge surprise, as they
had impressive rafts built from fuel pods and fishing net; one even
had a large foam box that had been salvaged out at sea.
Bringing up the rear were the four GVI teams, two of which
sprinted, neck and neck, to the finish line. At the last moment one
of the teams pulled ahead to victory as the first GVI team to reach
the beach. To celebrate the success of all of the teams, we came
back to Cap Ternay for an amazing BBQ feast hosted by our
favorite chef, Philippe.

Splitting into teams, we tackled our two nearby beaches,


pulling up a truck full of rubbish from the sand and
mangroves, and our entrance road, which had been
overgrown by foliage.

Within a couple hours our road

seemed to have doubled in size and our beaches were clear of


the myriad of plastic and Styrofoam pieces that had washed
ashore. Again we gathered for a Philippe BBQ - two in one
week! - to socialise with members of SNPA. There were some
informal rounds of volleyball, whilst others chatted to the
volunteers about life at Cap Ternay now and 20 years ago,
exchanging tales from either sides of the world.
It was another successful collaboration, which led to a good
nights sleep for all involved! The GVI team would once again
like to thank the SNPA for a great time had and congratulate
them on their raft race victory.

GVI SEYCHELLES

JUNE 2015, ISSUE 75

GVI team up with gif & snpa for


shark awareness campaign

The giant seaweed shark at the rangers station

Here at the GVI Curieuse Island Conservation Program, we love our

A quick hike back over the hill to the SNPA rangers station saw us on

sharks! Together with the Seychelles National Parks Authority we

track for lunch, followed by a host of further games. The children

currently run a research project, funded by the British High

learned about schooling behaviour in fish (predator avoidance), shark

Commission, which investigates population size and growth rate of the

anatomy, some specialised adaptations which help them when hunting

juvenile sickle-fin lemon sharks found in the Curieuse Marine Park.

(such as tooth shape and caudal fin structure), and threats to shark

Unfortunately, this love is not yet shared by everyone in Seychelles.

populations, especially the shark fin industry.

So, when our friends at the Green Islands Foundation (GIF) wanted to
organize a shark education day for local children, we couldnt wait to
give them a hand.

Sharks belong in the sea, but exceptions are possible, so to end the
day we all got together to search for the endemic, beach dwelling,
Curieuse seaweed shark. Unfortunately none were to be found - we

This was one of a number of events organized by GIF over the last

think they may even be fictional! However, it didnt take long for our

year. Funded by the UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme and the

enthusiastic visitors to make their own and they got a photo to

Environment Trust Fund to educate children and the local community

remember the day.

on the ecological importance of our sharky counterparts, it is also part

We all had a great day

of the IOC-SmartFish project Shark Fin Soup awareness campaign.

and the kids certainly

On the 17th of June we were able to take some time out of our busy

seemed

schedule of tortoise tickles, mudskips and Coco de Mer-ing to host

themselves. So, GIF

our GIF guests here on Curieuse Island. 17 children from the Praslin

we hope to see you

Wildlife Club at Grand Anse Primary School, aged 7-11, jumped on a

back here soon. As

boat and came with Arjan de Groene and Jennifer Appoo from GIF,

always a big thank

for a fun filled day of educational activities, games and seaweed sharks.

you

GVI staff and volunteers took the children on a tour of the mangroves,
introducing them to some of the many important species we find there
including, of course, our shark pups! Base Manager Alan Grant

equipment works and enables us to identify our individual lemons.

to

Seychelles

National

Parks

Authority

for

organising

transport

Island

we catch, measure, tag, release and re-catch our sharks. By this point
course, was to show the children how our tagging and scanning

enjoy

to and from Curieuse

stepped up to tell them all about our project, teaching how and why
it was of course time for the games the purpose, educational of

to

and

for

allowing us to take
over the rangers station at Baie Laraie.

GVI SEYCHELLES

Q2 in brief

CNN visit Curieuse island

Curieuse island Beach profiling

Last month Curieuse Island received a visit from a CNN film crew
who were in Seychelles to film conservation projects for an upcoming
episode of Inside Africa. The programme focused on conservation
In May members of the Seychelles National Parks Authority
research team visited Curieuse Island to provide training in beach
profiling techniques to the GVI Seychelles staff and SNPA park
rangers. It was an opportunity to set up reference marks and
practice methodologies out in the field. Beach profiling will now

projects running on three different islands within Seychelles. The film


crew visited the GVI Curieuse expedition base as well as the
Seychelles National Parks Authority rangers station to interview staff
and volunteers and film the GVI team undertaking research in the
field.

become a regular part of the GVI Seychelles Island Conservation


Expedition and will allow for the capture of important data

Cots removal continues on mah

relating to beach erosion and accretion.

Island school Seychelles programme

Following on from the previous removal campaign earlier this year,


In May 2015, the Save Our Seas Foundation Island School

GVI Seychelles and the Seychelles National Parks Authority once

Seychelles programme once again returned to Cap Ternay for a

again teamed up to tackle the ongoing COTS problem currently

week of marine themed educational activities. Sixteen children

facing the reefs of northwest Mah. On this occasion the organisations

aged 11-16 years old spent their days learning about the marine

decided to focus on Beau Vallon bay, the area most severely affected

ecosystem and snorkeling within the Baie Ternay Marine

by the coral predators. A total of 294 COTS were removed from

National Park. GVI Seychelles was pleased to have the

Auberge reef over the course of two dives. The two organisations will

opportunity to host the SOSF staff and meet the students on the

continue to work together on future removal campaigns in an effort

programme, many of who will hopefully be part of the next

to reduce the impacts that COTS are having on Seychelles reefs.

generation of marine conservationists.

National day show

Presidents village
In May we once again arranged to meet the kids of the Presidents
Village at their home for a day of activities. We had learned from
last time that we could plan as many organized games as we could
muster...but really it would come down to only what the kids
themselves wanted to do. So we loaded up on arts & crafts
supplies, pumped a bit of air into the football, and toted our heavy
bags of kid's snorkel gear, ready for whatever chaos they had in
store for us for the day.

The weekend of June 28th saw the three-day National Day Show held at
Roche Caiman on Mah. The show was an opportunity to celebrate
Seychelles National Day and to promote businesses and organisations
working within the archipelago.

Of course, arts & crafts were a hit. Volunteers split up naturally as


kids started running up, grabbing their hands, and pulling them
away to the different games. The artistic ones stayed back to
begin face painting, which swiftly turned the Children's Home

As part of the celebrations, local NGOs and government departments

into a Home for 20+ Spidermen. Some of the girls took over and

working in the conservation sector came together as part of the eco-

gave us smeared Seychellois flags on our cheeks. Tables of glitter,

village to promote the different work they are undertaking. GVI

paint, colored paper, and stenciled outlines soon spread out, as

Seychelles were present with a stand asking the general public Why

kids from 2 - 16 years old grabbed a brush to create their own

conservation is important to them? Over the course of the weekend

'art.'

children and adults, including the Minister for the Environment,


Energy, and Climate Change wrote short messages on cut out sharks,
rays and turtles explaining why they believed conservation to be
important.

Then the piatas began, we knew the chaos would increase


exponentially when they came out, as these kids were now able to
associate pummeling the paper mache creations with handfuls of
free candy. As expected, there was no control over the candy

The weekend was also an opportunity to promote the GVI National

frenzy, but they loved bashing each carefully-decorated piata into

Scholarship Programme, where free places on GVI Seychelles

an unrecognizable pile of painted newspaper and piling on top of

expeditions are offered to Seychellois over 18 years of age. The

each other. Soon after, we all sat down together for a massive

programme generated a great deal of interest with several young people

Creole-style feast before making the short walk to their little

enquiring about how they can join the GVI Seychelles expeditions. We

beach for another hour of splashing and swimming until they, and

look forward to seeing them at Cap Ternay or on Curieuse Island some

we, were finally worn out.

time in the future!

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