As we see the end of the first 6 months of 2012 GVI Seychelles is now ready to produce it’s bi-annual science report, containing information on all the surveys and research conducted over the past 6 months. With the help and hard work of the GVI Seychelles staff and volunteers we have managed to survey 12 Core research sites on the reefs surrounding North-West Mahe. This includes surveying over 34,938m of coral reefs!!
Volunteers joining the GVI Seychelles expedition over the past 6 months were assigned to either fish, corals or inverts, throughout the early weeks of their expedition they were taught to identify and survey a selection of target species which have been chosen by our projects partners, each one giving valuable information about the health of the coral reefs around Mahe.
During the past six months we have collected data on the density and diversity of commercial and reef fish species, the percentage of benthic cover (sessile organisms living on the reef), density and diversity of invertebrates on the reefs and diversity and abundance of coral genera. In addition to these main aims we have also collected numerous plankton samples to assist with ongoing whale shark research within the Seychelles and recorded interesting data on turtle behavior within the Bay Ternay Marine Park.
All of the information collected in the past 6 months will be sent to our project partners within the Seychelles, whichinclude, The Seychelles National Parks Authority, Seychelles Fishing Authority and Marine Conservation Society Seychelles. In the past this data has been used by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, which produces publications detailing reef health around the world.
As we look back over the past 6 months we are able to see the magnitude and importance of the data collected by the staff and volunteers of GVI Seychelles. Only through the education and research provided by projects such as GVI are we able to see the how crucial conservation and management of marine protected areas is in ensuring the sustainability and health of Coral reefs surrounding the Islands of the Seychelles.
If you would like further information on the research carried out by GVI Seychelles please visit the website http://www.gvi.co.uk/programs/marine-conservation-seychelles-expedition
The GVI Seychelles Curieuse Island Expedition base has begun to reduce its carbon footprint with the introduction of solar power and a new water catchment system.
With each litre of petrol burned producing 2.4kg of carbon dioxide the move away from using a generator to a solar powered system will enable us to significantly reduce our C02 output.
In addition to the solar system, staff on the Curieuse base have updated the guttering on the buildings and installed a rainwater harvesting system. On an island with an extremely limited amount of fresh water this new system will enable us to catch rainwater for washing dive equipment and for watering an organic garden.
Help GVI and the Seychelles National Parks Authority to reduce their impact on the environment and create a model environmentally sound research base with the installation of this solar energy system.
Stay tuned for further green initiatives over the coming months!
Our first very small solar array was set up recently on our base on the Curieuse Island in the Seychelles. This solar array will capture and turn the sunlight into another form of energy. It can be used to to provide electricity to houses and also for heating water. Solar panels will work very efficiently in the Seychelles with the year round tropical climate. Although we are in the early days with regards to creating our dream carbon neutral base progression has been made thanks to donations. Solar panels are a relatively expensive commodity especially in Africa. We also hope to start planting flowers, vegetables and possible trees soon as this is a very effective way to reduce carbon.
At the November 2011 climate change conference in Durban, South Africa, climate science experts announced that their latest findings confirm that the planet is on course for catastrophic climate change due to green house gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Mankind’s response to the problem we have created has been too little too late to avert a 2 degree C + rise in average global temperatures over the next 50-100 years. Extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, deep freezes and hurricanes will increase dramatically. The nations least able to cope will be the hardest hit.
Small island states such as the Seychelles islands are in the direct line of fire. Their wonderfully diverse and fragile ecosystems are in danger of being destroyed forever in the near future. GVI Curieuse is raising money for the installation of a Solar system to help the base become an example of zero emissions living. As an international company working in over thirty countries reducing our carbon footprint is a priority. Leading by example not only educates our volunteers and the local population but demonstrates that renewable energy technologies, once installed are a cheap, clean and efficient way to produce the energy we need not only to exist in a modern world but also to develop for the future.
This project will help us to establish a carbon neutral research base on Curieuse Island in the Seychelles. For this report we thought we would share a story from the field written by one of the wonderful GVI volunteers who participate in research expeditions to support conservation in this pristine environment:
'It was a humid rainy morning as the 3 of 4 (Victoria, Duncan, and I) of us got in the van with GVI staff. All were super friendly and welcoming. After introductions to the other volunteers, we continued on our way to the ferry. To divert our attention from the choppy crossing en route to Praslin, we sat back to a soundtrack of The Mask, broken occasionally by the sounds of other passengers not fairing so well with the journey!
Conor (our 4th volunteer) wasn’t arriving until late on Saturday so we had a chance to settle in before getting stuck into the presentations. On Sunday, all our basic instruction began. One of the first things we learned was how to use a machete. Scholar Michelle took us on a path through the side of a slightly murky swamp. After finding several coconuts, we headed back. Duncan and I were the last two, when all of a sudden a 4ft crab slightly emerged from the water. After a brief glare, it submerged itself again. Duncan and I were unable to say anything, and no one else will believe us. But it is there. Stay at Curieuse and you can see for yourself too...
One by one we dehusked a coconut via a metal husking stake...aka a metal pipe with a flattened end. We turned the coconut in our hand and with the other tapped it with the machete until it cracked. Once in two, we were able to eat the crispy tropical snack and drink the coconut milk. Delicious.
We went down the beach to check on the nests. By moving a few inches of dirt in each nest, Science Coordinator April checked to see if any shells were near the surface. Nest one, nothing. Nest two, nothing. Nest three...
April scooped out a handful of sand and gasped. There in the sand was a baby GREEN turtle. It was a rare experience because Green turtles only nest in the dark and the nests are more difficult to spot. One by one the baby green turtles emerged from the sand to make their epic journey to their new world. Only the females will return to this beach to lay their eggs, in another 30-35 years. After letting them make their way down the beach, we gathered the turtle and sand into our hands to help them across the surf. The feeling of assisting something so precious, with the hope that maybe that one will survive, is amazing. The exhilaration of watching this process, the hatch-ling dig out, and make it to the sea, is something I have seen countless times on the Discovery channel. But to watch it in real life, to be a part of that experience, is something so breathtaking that words can hardly justify it. As the turtle entered the water, its fins being pushed to the limit as designed, brought complete satisfaction that projects like this hope to achieve. That was the great part. Sadly, there were a few that did not make it. As with all things, in the battle for survival not everything wins. There were over a hundred egg shells, a representation that many made it to sea, but a few still remained to continue the cycle of life through decomposition.
The next day was our first real turtle walk day. We came across our first giant tortoise. We saw more tortoises and eventually arrived at the Ranger Station where most of them are concentrated. When we eventually got to the beaches, we saw a couple of tracks. Everyone had a different job, measuring, recording, digging etc . We were talking and laughing along our route. At one of these spots, there was a Hawksbill Turtle covering up her nest. We silently watching in awe as she worked so hard to do what instinct has guided her to do. After some time, she finished covering up and we watched her scooting back into the sea.
We each checked more nests. One of them yielded more hatchlings! Tragically, they seemed to be the bottom of the nest hatchlings and were weak, leading us to believe that they were the last ones to make their way to the sea from the nest.
Everyone is great and gets along well. There is laughing and teamwork both in duties and for fun. It has been a great beginning for our adventure on Curieuse Island.'
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