Saddiqua snorkelling

Student Blog – Saddiqua

My name is Saddiqua Fanny-Al-Abdulla, and I am taking part in the WiseOceans Marine Scholarship Programme which enables young Seychellois to gain skills and knowledge in marine conservation at various organizations in that field. This blog aims to describe my time with GVI Seychelles, during which I participated in the ridge to reef study 

Dive Training

First, as a Marine Scholarship Programme trainee, my fellow trainees and I were taught how to Scuba Dive. We completed our Advanced Open Water Dive training with GVI. Following this we were given a comprehensive course on the fish species that would spotted during reef surveys. These included: Butterflyfish, Surgeonfish, Rabbitfish, Wrasse, Parrotfish, Job fish, Triggerfish, Pufferfish, Porcupine fish, Moorish Idol, Angelfish, Batfish, Bristletooth, Squirrelfish and Soldierfish. After learning about the fish, we then proceeded to do point outs in the bay along with written exams to test our knowledge and prepare us for the surveys. 

Ridge to Reef Project

Throughout my internship at GVI, I participated in the Ridge to Reef Project running during the South-East Monsoon. The ‘Ridge to Reef’ approach is to manage and conserve the flow of marine, coastal and terrestrial ecosystem services in targeted islands of the Seychelles.

We focused predominantly on the reef aspect of the project and consequently undertook reef surveys, seagrass surveys, sea cucumber surveys and CoralWatch on different spots in the Baie Ternay Marine Park and the Port Launay Marine Park. There were also Terrestrial Surveys for example, bird surveys, crab surveys, and lizard surveys. 

The surveys were highly dependent on the tides, especially if we were going by boat, but it was mostly done in the morning for up to 45 minutes. Snorkel, mask, fins, slate, pencil and SMBs (surface marker buoys) are what we needed, and they are stored in the kit room where we leave all dive and snorkel gear. Depending on the number of participants the survey was conducted with each snorkeler swimming in a straight line alongside each other and they would tally the reef fish that was seen. They could also skin dive no deeper than 3 meters to get a closer look at the shallow reefs.

There are several sites that we surveyed, and they were Baie Ternay North, East, South, West and Center as well as Port Launay Marine Park. The sites where we would see most fish was BTC (Baie Ternay Centre) and those were Bristletooths, Surgeonfish, Butterfly fish, Parrot Fish and Soldierfish. My personal favourite was the Indian Ocean Redfin Butterflyfish because of how they would always swim in pairs. As for data entry, we would input the type of fish species, the total amount tallied and the site we surveyed on a website used by GVI. You may be wondering why we input the data, well the data is sent to SPGA so that they can monitor the health of the Marine Parks.

Final Thoughts

I found surveying very insightful and could envisage myself doing them again in the future! I also enjoyed learning about the fish, the corals and the sea cucumbers. To top it off, this experience has allowed me to become more confident in the water for I faced my fears through snorkelling, diving and identifying the beautiful creatures of the Baie Ternay Marine Park reef. Being an aspiring conservationist this project has proven to be very helpful in terms of how to protect the different species in their natural habitat.

The Marine Scholarship Programme (MSP)

Offering in-depth practical and theory training centred around the marine environment, participants will develop skills to increase opportunities for employment. The Programme, based across Mahé and the inner islands, includes six months of core training delivered by WiseOceans and GVI Seychelles and three months of placements with our partner organisations in both the public and private sectors. These placements will be tailored to participants’ individual interests and skills, helping to build connections and experiences in the workplace.

Thank you to SeyCCAT for funding the Marine Scholarship Programme

Learn more about our Marine Conservation work here

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