Monday, December 17, 2018

Blue Economy Internship students

It is with great pleasure that we have been hosting two students from the Blue Economy Internship Programme, who are both showing great interest in the work that we do, especially at the Wildlife Conservation and Rehabilitation Centre where they are based. In the following blogs they share their experiences so far:

My first week at MCSS...

Hello! My name is Johnise Philoe, I’m 17 years old (well until next week), I live at Baie Lazare and I’m a Blue Economy intern with MCSS that is situated at the Banyan Tree Resort’s Wildlife Conservation and Rehabilitation Centre. Being there for 2weeks will and is allowing me to experience, widen my knowledge and develop my skills towards the conservation and rehabilitation of Seychelles’ terrapins ( i.e. the yellow bellied and the black mud turtle species, also known as ‘Torti soupap’ in creole) and the different types of sea turtles ( but mostly about the hawksbill and green turtles since they are the only species which nests on the many beaches of the Seychelles).
 Stephie, Simi(volunteer) and Johnise with nesting turtle

Even though my first week of working at the Centre is almost over, there has been joyful, memorable, collective and even tiring moments, and lets just say that there are still more to come. These are some reasons as to why I wake up every morning to attend my working days there. 
Johnise measuring tracks

tagging a nest

My name is Stephie Dubel, I am 16 years old. And currently interning at MCSS (Marine Conservation Society Seychelles) on the south Mahe projects, is located at Banyan Tree.

It's been a week already since I've been working at the MCSS and throughout this week I managed to mastered as many as I could about Wildlife Conservation and the projects that are ongoing at the MCSS.
I've learnt that there's only two species of Terrapins in Seychelles! They are the Black mud Terrapin and Yellow -bellied Terrapin. Apparently I was told by the Animal welfare officer at MCSS Mr Max Bonfatti that these little creatures are critically endangered species facing a numerous threats through residential and commercial development, invasive spices and diseases, pollution and so on.

During this first week of interning I also learnt how to do the trapping which is very easy! In the afternoon you just put the traps in some different pond sites along with some bait in it and every morning we went by each of the pond sites to check if there's any Terrapins trapped inside. This is usually done twice daily.
The Terrapins that are caught in the traps are taken to the centre were they get measured and weighed later they get released back to the pond.

Furthermore, we also do daily patrol.
This is normally done in the morning. We use a Trimble to record any necessary data for example if we encounter a sea turtle nesting!
collecting encounter data on a nesting turtle

To my knowledge I was told that whenever you encounter a turtle nesting its better to stand behind  her rather than in front of her because, she might get stressed or feel threatened and return to the ocean if she notices your presence.

So far I am enjoying my experience. It's amazing how much I have come to learn in just one week. And I strongly believe that MCSS I doing a great job.
seeing off their first turtle encounter with  MCSS

Monday, December 3, 2018


-Get a bruise from a tortoise “running” into you 
Anna chatting with Armando

-Apply nail polish on a terrapin 
Terrapin spa!

-Hover in the bushes like a military, to count turtle eggs 
observing a nesting turtle

Let’s start from the beginning. We are Astrid and Anna, from Sweden and Germany. As we wanted to work with turtles, we were placed at the Conservation Centre at Banyan Tree resort. The staff here monitors the terrapin population in the wetlands around the resort, track turtles and takes care of six giant tortoises.

Right on our first day we fell in love with the gentle giants here at the conservation centre. Four of the tortoises were donated by their previous owners as they were not able to take good care of them while the other two had to be bought after some generous donations in the effort to rescue them. Daily duties are feeding them, cleaning the pond, and take away poo to the composter. We always imagined reptiles as independent animals, but these tortoises love to get a scratch. They are trying to get your attention so you pet them. But beware to never stand between a tortoise and her food- she can cause lovely bruises by “running” into you. Still we can’t stop gazing at these amazing animals.

The next day we went on terrapin tracking. We were lucky that there were two terrapins in our first trap. We have noticed it is not so common to find them in the traps.  What we usually do when finding a terrapin, is taking them to the centre to measure and weight them. We use the data to keep track on their health of the population, if they change ponds, and to understand terrapins behaviour better. Oh, and by the way, the nail polish is to mark them.

The first week went by, many things happened and we learned a lot. We did bird-surveys, beach-patrols to look for turtle tracks and nests, and we were cleaning coral tanks.

Then Friday came along (our favourite day so far). We were doing turtle-patrols on five different beaches. Quick summary of how we do that: Walk along the beach. Look for tracks. If we find one, we measure it to find out how big and what kind of sea turtle it was. Hawksbill and green turtles are nesting at the beaches here.
with their first turtle track
 Hawksbill turtles are critically endangered, and the green turtles are endangered. So, it is important that their nests are in good places, and that tourists and dogs for example don’t scare them away. When we got back to the office after the beach-patrols we got a call from someone that saw a turtle on the beach. In order to measure her and count the eggs, we hovered in the bushes behind her. That was one of our best nature experiences ever, as we never thought we would be so close to a turtle in such an intimate situation. When she was finished, we took ID-photos of her which we compare to previous taken pictures at the office. We think doing this is very exciting, in contrast to previous volunteers apparently.  (Vanessa knows how much we love it.) That’s how we keep track of the turtles.
I3S fanatics!

Now we are at the end of our second week. We are staying here one month. We already know that we’re going to miss the turtles, tortoises, terrapins and the lovely colleges. So, we are just trying to take in every moment and enjoy our stay here as much as possible. 
selfies while waiting on a nesting turtle

Astrid and Anna, volunteers November 2018.