I have just spent my last week working as Reef Restoration Project Officer at Petite Anse. It’s hard to believe it has been two years since my first walk to work, turning that corner in the road at Four Seasons Resort Seychelles and seeing the bay for the first time (you’ll know what I mean when you see it) and knowing that beautiful spot is your office. It feels a bit strange to be honest and I don’t think it has really sunk in that I have left Seychelles yet, but one thing I’ve always known is what a great adventure I have had.
It has been fascinating
It’s a real privilege to get to spend two years snorkelling, diving and observing one site. It has never been dull and there is always pleasure in spotting new things and seeing life going about its business. I was, of course, in the business of growing corals and watching these ‘babies’ grow over the last year and a half has been the most rewarding and nerve wracking part of my job. Seeing a new coral fragment in the nursery heal and begin to attach itself to its support is a hit of happiness and encouragement every time, seeing a nursery full of corals that you have grown is fantastic.
It has been hard work
That’s not to say it’s all easy swimming. For all the hundreds of amazing hours spent on the reef and in the nursery, there is a lot of tough physical work, hundreds of duck dives and minutes of breath holding, planning, maintenance, storm repairs, and just as many hundreds of hours spent on a laptop (doing all the necessary and important tasks that go with a dream job).
There have been sad times
In my two years our bay (along with the rest of Seychelles) has faced a toxic algal bloom, some stunning storm action and one global bleaching event. If watching your nursery and reef grow and live over two years is fantastic, you can imagine witnessing it struggling and fading against a mass bleaching event is pretty devastating. 2016 was not a good year for corals and we were no exception.
And hopeful ones
Although there were many mortalities on the reef and in the nursery, we still found reason for optimism. We have found an encouraging number of surviving young adult colonies and more and more new coral recruits on the reef in the last year.
It was also a chance to reflect and develop our project in a new direction. Coral reefs are on the front line of climate change and through our education and outreach programmes we are in the great position to help people understand the global threats to our reefs and most importantly the steps we can take to contribute to the solutions. So, since the bleaching event we have been busy in the nursery and at the drawing board developing new educational and engagement materials and our Promise to the Reef activity to spread awareness and action against climate change and threats to our reefs.
There has been lots of creativity
One of the things I have loved about this role is all the unexpected avenues for creativity. Everything from a kids game to a honeymoon experience or behaviour change activity.
…And so much coral chat
Seriously, 50% of our day is talking. Finding new ways to engage people with the project, the reef, our activities, climate change, to all ages and backgrounds is a great challenge and one that always keeps the role fresh and (sometimes) you on your toes. Geographically our project is small, but when I think of the number of people we have talked to, taken into the water, shown the project, schools and groups who have visited, events attended, articles and photos out in the world…this is the reach and impact of our projects, and definitely something for us all to be proud of.
And always so much fun!
It is a great sign to know that you go into work every day guaranteed that you are going to laugh (often until your face hurts) and be surrounded by the best team ever. There have been a few changes to that team during my time here, but every combination has been a dream to work with. Thanks, it has been a blast! My journey with WiseOceans is not over though, so watch this space……..!