With approximately 25% of all marine life supported by coral reefs, there are a whole lot of creatures to see when you’re part of the WiseOceans team based at Four Seasons Resort Seychelles!
The commonly sighted species are easy to remember, but during research surveys underwater your identification skills and knowledge can be tested. Since I started my role as Junior Marine Educator, and even prior to my arrival, I have been learning to identify the invertebrates, fish and corals that could be seen in Petite Anse and around the Seychelles. This has included looking at photos, learning key characteristics and unique features, and in-water spotting and practice surveys (the best part!). The data collected by WiseOceans here at Four Seasons Resort Seychelles is passed on to the Seychelles’ Ministry of Environment and Energy to support their research in pursuit of a thorough knowledge and understanding of the Seychelles coral reef ecosystem.
Having completed my invertebrate training I am eagerly awaiting the coming weeks when I will be able to put my practice to use and help survey the bay. Some of the invertebrates can be easy to spot, others more challenging; would you notice a brittlestar wrapped around a coral, like the one pictured? You must also remember everything starts small, I didn’t see the tiny feather duster worms at first. My practice survey trained in my eyes and was a lot of fun and we spent most of it floating upside down peering into all the crevices. I laid out the measuring tape for our transect line and then, scuba diving with slate in hand, noted all invertebrates within 1m either side of the tape.
Next up was the fish training. This uses a different survey technique, and I have yet to practice the method, but have begun to learn the huge diversity of fish. Luckily some I only need to know to family level and many I knew from doing my guided snorkels and general curiosity. Viewing photos was useful, especially to learn the first things to look for. Being able to identify a still image compared to a fast swimming fish has its differences which made the in water practice very entertaining. It involved Lindsay using a stick to point at fish as they swam by and me yelling out the name, hoping we were looking at the same one!
The final group to go is corals, both Lindsay and Charlotte’s favourite and the one I probably know the least; plus some of the names themselves can be complicated. Again I have been trawling through photos and both ladies have offered some comedy similes e.g. looks like baked beans, looks like teddy bears dancing, like fish eggs (this one pictured) or even like the surface of the moon. With this knowledge it’s just practice makes perfect, so I guess I need to spend some more time in the water – who wants to take me coral spotting??
(P.S. The photo on the left is a cornetfish and the photo on the right is a trumpetfish. Can you spot the differences?)