Throughout February and March, Nature Seychelles’ Reef Rescuers team have been hard at work surveying the project sites around Cousin Island Special Reserve, a really important part of the coral reef restoration process. The aim of the large-scale assessment was to quantify the effects of the 2016 bleaching event and to assess the current status of the project, 7 years on from its inception.
Up-close detail of the coral Montastrea curta recently reclassified as Astrea curta.
To assess the reef, the team surveyed several key resilience indicators including; benthic structure, invertebrate and fish populations, coral recruitment and adult coral population and health. Abundant and diverse populations of invertebrates, fish and corals are a key sign of a healthy reef whilst high levels of natural recruitment indicate the potential for successful reef recovery, following a large-scale disturbance of this kind.
The Reef Rescuers team have enjoyed every bit of the intense six weeks of surveying, despite experiencing some tough conditions. Surveying is a great opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the beautiful marine organisms on the reef, including corals and cryptic invertebrates such as Nudibranchs which often display beautiful colours and markings, designed to ward off predators.
The Nudibranch Thuridilla gracilis, only 2cm long showing off its vibrant striped pattern.
Encountering a school of 35 Bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) on the designer-reef was a particular highlight, as the species is declared ‘vulnerable’ (IUCN Red List Classification of endangered species) and is not often sighted in such large numbers within the region. Unfortunately, these guys can be a bit of a problem for the reef as they have a large appetite for coral, chomping on branches as they pass by.
All in all, we are looking forward to the conclusions of the assessment as positive signs of natural recovery have already been observed. For now, it’s back to the nursery to continue taking care of the young ‘super-corals’ which are almost ready to be added to the reef.
Although Nature Seychelles' underwater coral nursery in the Marine Park by Felicité Island is located close to the shore, bad weather and rough sea conditions can make a shore dive impossible. During rainy days, our Reef Rescuers depend on the boat to complete tasks related to the nursery cleaning, monitoring of the donor site and survey of potential transplantation site.
A proposal to undertake a large-scale coral reef restoration project in the Colombian Caribbean has been shortlisted for support by the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA). Now, outdoor enthusiasts and project supporters will vote to decide if the project gets to receive funding for long-term sustainability.
Nature Seychelles’ Reef Rescuers team was recently invited to collaborate with the Island Resort Six Senses Zil Pasyon and conduct a feasibility assessment. The main objective of this survey was to see if we could implement a Coral Garden Project within the Marine Protected Area (MPA) of Félicité Island.
It can be difficult to tear oneself away from infants for an extended period of time, but the much needed R&R from their constant daily demands can make the homecoming gratifying. Nature Seychelles’ Reef Rescuers team Louise Malaisé and Austin Laing-Herbert had to temporarily leave their underwater coral family to spend time with their real families over the festive season. Louise, the Technical & Scientific Officer tells us about the worries they had on leaving, how keen they were to get back to their coral nurseries and what they found on their return.
A Report from Nature Seychelles’ International Volunteer Program
I arrived on Praslin and was met by two volunteers who showed me to the dorms at Nature Seychelles’ Island Conservation Centre and who helped me settle in. I then met Nature Seychelles’ Reef Rescuers team the next day - Louise and Austin.
Scarring and sheeting of nursery grown corals are among the first steps towards successful rearing. The scaring process - depending on the growth structure and type of coral - can take anywhere from two weeks to a month and a half.
After two underwater heat waves in 1998 and 2010, El Niño has once again struck coral reefs worldwide, triggering the third global coral bleaching event in recorded history.