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Marine Conservation Expedition in the Seychelles

Reisroute

Marine Conservation Expedition in the Seychelles

About Your Location

Experience the beautiful Indian Ocean paradise of the Seychelles islands. We operate two bases in the inner granitic islands, both within National Marine Parks next to stunning palm-fringed beaches and forested areas. Our Cap Ternay marine expedition base is located on the NE coast of Mahe adjacent to the spectacular Baie Ternay Marine Park. The paradise of the Seychelles is the ideal location to volunteer, gain new skills on our internships or enjoy a short volunteer holiday in a well-preserved and tranquil tropical archipelago.

Project Life

Your work week will typically run from Sunday through Thursday, with Friday and Saturday as your weekends. Working days are typically from 06:00 till around 16:00, depending on current studies and weather conditions. We end off the working week with a BBQ night - which is a great way to break the ice and get to know everybody. Depending on weather conditions, we aim for everyone to have 1 or 2 dives/snorkels each day, 5 days a week, during which you will conduct underwater surveys after completion of your training. Besides diving, you should expect to be involved in additional projects and activities, including training sessions, marine debris surveys and removal or environmental education sessions, depending on local and project needs. You will also be required to complete base duties.

At the end of each day you will eat, relax and socialise with the rest of the team as you recount your sightings from below the surface. Life on the base will be simple island living, sleeping in basic dormitory style accommodation with shared bathrooms as well as sharing cooking and cleaning duties around base.

Weekends will be yours to explore the beautiful surrounding area and islands as you immerse yourself in the Creole culture of the Seychelles.

Project Details

Volunteers will be allocated fish, coral or invertebrates as part of coral reef monitoring, allocations will be sent to the 4 weeks prior to their arrival to be forwarded to the volunteers, so they have plenty of time to study before coming to base. Every volunteer will be expected to be familiar with the study materials before they arrive to speed up the process of getting them to monitoring level. We monitor all these topics at our 24 sites over the North-West coast of Mahe.

Fish - volunteers collect data on abundance/biodiversity, which helps to assess overall recovery of fish life on the reef.

Coral - for the first half of the year we monitor coral cover of our sites, and in the second half of the year we monitor the recruits (juvenile) corals that are growing on our sites, both of which give us a better idea of the health and diversity of the reef.

Invertebrates - slight variations in our methodologies throughout the year, but both focus on the diversity and abundance of different species found around the Seychelles. Incidental Sightings is something that everyone gets involved with on a daily basis, we compile a species list and maintain a record of the daily occurrences of different marine creatures at the various dive sites. This data is passed onto OBIS Seamap which is an online database to see populations of different big species around the world.

All volunteers will also get involved with monthly dives to clean up the reef - Dive Against Debris (DAD) which the data goes to Project AWARE who are monitoring the levels of trash that is being found on dive sites around the world. Everyone will conduct a separate monitoring technique of Coral Watch, this is a worldwide coral monitoring methodology which looks into the levels of bleaching that is occuring on corals. Our final project that we have available to all volunteers is our coral restoration project, Volunteers will be able to assist with collecting new fragments, cleaning our nursery, or transplanting our fragments to a new site, what you get involved with depends on what time of year you are on base.

You should keep in mind that projects conducted are dependent on the season and the priorities always remain with our local partners.

As part of this program you will also join the PADI REMS Specialty Course, which is designed to educate divers about how to correctly identify specific species associated with coral reefs (i.e. invertebrates, fish, megafauna and corals) as well as how to choose the correct method of surveying to indicate the health of the reef ecosystem over time. Focusing on the size estimations of corals and fish, as well as the abundance of all reef organisms to give a good indication of diversity and health of the reef. Participants will also learn to improve their in-water skills (i.e. buoyancy and monitoring techniques).
The goals of the REMS Diver training are to teach how to accurately identify coral reef species and the correct monitoring procedures/methods to collect viable data to indicate the reefs health over time. Initially educating the students on the conservation methods used to monitor local reef systems associated with human impact.

How This Project Makes a Difference

With substantial contributions from our partners, we are the leading marine data collection organisation in the Seychelles. Much of this data is used by other organisations in the Seychelles. For example, the Seychelles government relies on this data to show an accurate picture of the overall health of the local coral reefs when setting and creating new management policies.

Mandatory Volunteer Requirements

- Visa and vaccination requirements according to destination
- Minimum age of 18
- Police Clearance Certificate (not older than 6 months)
- High level of competency in English
- Medical form
- Copy of return flight itinerary
- Acceptance subject to availability
- If you are joining the program for 2 weeks, you must already have your Advanced Open Water qualification. (we no longer offer 3 weeks)
- If you join the program for 4 weeks you need to already have your PADI Open Water qualification, and will gain your Advanced open water certificate qualification during the 4 week program
- If you join the program for 6 weeks you need to already have your PADI Open Water qualification, and will gain your Advanced open water certificate qualification during the 4 week program
- As a non-diver, you can join for 8 weeks and up and you will gain your PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water during the program

Inclusions

Airport pick-up (specific pick-up time applies)
Transfer to base
Welcome meeting
Location orientation
Safe and basic accommodation (shared)
Meals while on project
PADI Advanced Open Water
PADI Reef Ecosystem Monitoring Surveyor (REMS) Distinctive Speciality course
Coral reef ecology
Community work workshop
Diving compressor training workshop
Use of O2 equipment workshop
All necessary project equipment and materials but not your own personal diving gear, the full list of requirements is included in the field manual for example, wetsuit, diving mask, fins etc
All necessary project training by experienced long term staff
National park fees & permits
First aid & CPR training
24-hour in-country support
24-hour emergency phone
Access to alumni services and discounts

Temperature: Wetsuit use varies based on personal preference and how much individuals feel the cold. Oct - Dec the water is around 27-28 degrees Celsius when a 3mm wetsuit will suffice. Jan - May the water is around 28-30 degrees, and most people favour a 3mm wetsuit or go without. From June to Sep the water is 25-28 degrees, when you will need a 3/5mm long wetsuit.

What Makes a Good Volunteer?

Volunteers need to be flexible and keep an open mind concerning their placements as situations can arise beyond our control which could require you to be placed at a different project than the one you have initially chosen. We will of course always do our utmost to fulfill your initial wishes but do remember that where you are going is quite different from where you are coming and as such one should be prepared for things not always going according to plan.

Volunteering and intercultural travel share a common trait: the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. This program is designed for proactive individuals and groups that are prepared to adapt to the local environment and its current needs. Naturally, the scheduling and activities of our program are subject to change. Alterations in activities are mainly due to changes in local conditions, which we believe is part of what makes overseas programs the interesting adventure and incredible learning experience that they are.

How Long Should I Volunteer?

Our projects range from 1 week up to approx. 30 weeks. Projects have a specified minimum stay, then it’s up to you how long you can commit. In our experience the longer you stay the more you will gain, as your understanding of the project broadens and you take on more responsibilities. Every volunteer will be given a certificate of appreciation at the end of their stay as a symbol of volunteering stay.
Overzicht

Wat is inbegrepen?

Extra kosten tijdens tour
None

Activiteiten

Included Activities
There is 1 experience offered per month. Volunteers on longer durations will not be eligible to repeat Experiences. Please note, Experiences are subject to change or substitution and are optional. Volunteers who elect, or are unable, to participate will not be eligible for any refunds. Volunteers must ensure their travel insurance covers any activities.

- Learn to cook traditional Seychellois Creole dishes
You will learn how to make traditional Seychellois Creole dishes, using fruits picked from in and around our base or from the local markets. Depending on the season you might pick breadfruit, coconuts or papayas. Creole flavours are a fusion of Indian, Chinese and French cuisines, with a unique blend of herbs and spices. Typical dishes include a local-style fish BBQ and a green mango salad. You'll take turns to help with the preparation, including cutting and preparing vegetables. At the end you'll get to enjoy a delicious Seychellois dish.

- Visit the Mission Ruins at Venn's Town
Venn's Town is a short drive from base. This historic site bears testimony to an important part of the Seychelles' history. After the abolition of slavery, the Seychelles became one of the main locations where liberated slaves settled. With many of them finding work as labourers on plantations, in 1875 Venn's Town was established to accommodate and educate their children. The large numbers of liberated Africans had a great impact on the Seychelles and in the formation of the Creole Seychellois identity. The short walk to the ruins ends with a spectacular view of the east coast of Mahe and the Morne Seychellois National Park. The small village has both ruins and restored buildings with informational boards sharing some of the experiences, trials and accomplishments of these early settlers.

- Paddleboard across the bay
Learn how to stand-up paddleboard (SUP) on the calm blue waters of Mahe's beaches. During orientation you'll learn important safety information, including how to stand and control the board, proper stroke and turning techniques, correct posture and positioning, and how to safely entry and exit from the water. To start you will paddle out on your knees, orienting your body to the movement and the SUP. Once you're comfortable, you can stand up and experience the ocean from a unique vista - standing on water. Paddle with your buddies at sunrise or sunset and explore the beautiful coastline - it’s magical being out there and taking it all in. We often see dolphins, sea turtles and a vast variety of fish as we cruise through the marine park.

- Hike through lush forests and across rocky plateaus
The granitic islands of the Seychelles have all the elements needed to create exceptional biodiversity. With nine signposted hiking routes across Mahe, the hike we choose depends on the groups' fitness level and weather conditions. Ranging in length and difficulty (particularly the ascent/descent), participants can choose a route that suits their abilities and interests. Expect exceptional panoramic views of the east and west coasts, lush forests, rocky plateaus and inspiring flora and fauna - including the endemic insectivorous pitcher plant.

- Explore the ocean after dark with a night dive
Offering a unique perspective on our amazing dive sites situated in the Cap Ternay marine protected waters. You will dive down into the fascinating nocturnal world and explore what feels like a whole new ecosystem. Crustaceans out of their daily hiding spots, rays out hunting for their next meal, resting parrot fish and eels exploring the murky depths. With such a varied experience, it’s no wonder many participants look forward to this amazing opportunity.

- Discover rare and endemic species of plants
Visit the Seychelles National Biodiversity Center - a natural sanctuary that aims to preserve the endangered species that make up the fragile ecosystems of the archipelago in the Western Indian Ocean. A local ranger will guide you through the lush gardens and explain the importance and uses of many of the endemic and endangered species. The area features an arboretum (a botanical garden for propagating endangered species), an Aldabra garden, a palm forest, a living collection garden, a Small Islands Developing States garden, as well as a medicinal garden. After exploring the gardens, you can enjoy a picnic in the beautiful grounds.

- Swim at a secret beach
Lush dramatic landscapes, soft white sand and turquoise water. At the small half-moon shaped secret beach you'll find massive smooth boulders, a freshwater mangrove pool and a rope swing for practicing your inner Tarzan. Offering astounding natural beauty, it is one of the few "untouched" beaches in the Seychelles. Off the beaten track, the beach is a 30-minute swim or 5-minute boat ride from base - but it's well worth it. Spend the day lazing on the beach - swimming and snorkeling and enjoying the crystal-clear water. As one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, it’s easy to see how a visit to this beach ends up becoming one of many people's favourite memories.

- Go fishing with local fishers
In the Seychelles fishing offers a livelihood and a source of nutrition. Fishers prioritise fishing for their families as it provides their main source of protein. The waters outside the marine-protected areas near Cap Ternay are home to a variety of fish species, including rabbit fish, bonito, and snapper. Fishers will take you out by boat to handline fish. Here you will learn the art of handline fishing, reading the tides, feeding times, and breeding patterns - knowledge that is ingrained in Seychellois culture. You might also get a chance to learn about invertebrates, such as crustaceans, shellfish and sea cucumbers. You can bring your catch back to base and share a sustainable supper with the team, or choose to catch and release.

Free Time
Participants have free time over the weekend (usually Saturday and Sunday). They must be back on base by Sunday evening for dinner to be ready for the week ahead.

There are many opportunities in the local area to do day trips visiting local islands Praslin ad La Digue, some of these include scuba experiences, snorkeling and pristine beaches, visit the Valée de Mai Nature Reserve, or enjoy some down time at a local resort.

There is the option to arrange a boat transfer in advance to other islands, and there are taxis and a bus system on Praslin island. Participants can also purchase tickets for the inter-Island ferry system which is very reliable.

Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with us. Our field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Seychelles!

Included Side Trips
During the expedition, we will usually organise a hike up Cap Matoopa for you to explore the surrounding area after all your hard work on surveys. The last days of an expedition are usually dedicated to taking volunteers to their favourite dive sites to dive just for fun, having completed all the survey work.

Optional Side Trips
On the weekends many volunteers head to Beau Vallon Bay for a well-earned break. The bay is the main tourist area of Mahe with a lovely long beach, hotels and guest houses, shops and restaurants to suit all tastes. The dive shops in the area offer many options for all diving needs.

Most people would agree that sitting at The Coral Strand Hotel bar with a cool drink and watching the sun set behind Silhouette Island is an experience not to be missed. Volunteers may have the opportunity to visit the islands of Praslin and La Digue. Praslin is home to the Vallee de Mai (a world heritage site) thought by early explorers to be the original “Garden of Eden”, that is home of the famous Coco de Mer palm tree that produces the huge double nut famous for its provocative shape. La Digue is the picture perfect tropical island, small and intimate with quaint guest houses and arguably the most beautiful beach in the world - Anse Source d’Argent.

Victoria is the capital city of the Seychelles, the smallest capital city in the world. Volunteers often visit to catch up at internet cafes, do a little shopping, or visit the market to soak up the local atmosphere.

Public transport is cheap and frequent and all parts of Mahe can be explored easily by catching a bus. Many volunteers spend happy times bouncing around the island roads on buses taking in the beautiful scenery whilst enjoying the company of locals going about their daily business.

Accommodatie

Accommodation is in shared (mixed gender) dorm rooms (up to 10 people). The tap water is safe for drinking on the expedition base and there is cold running water available. There are male and female bathrooms with cold water showers, which believe it or not is very much welcomed after a hot day in this tropical climate! The hub is very active on environmental awareness (as is most of Seychelles). Keeping up with the recycling is part of daily duties that every volunteer will partake in. Participants also share base duties, including cleaning and other chores. Refrigeration is available for communal food only. You need to bring your own mosquito net and bedding for example a thin sleeping bag liner.

If you need to stay additional nights before or after your project you need to book these separately, ask your travel consultant for help.

Lokaal vervoer

Arrival
Volunteers arrange international flights to Seychelle's main international airport on Mahé Island, arriving on or before the expedition start date. We highly recommend that you arrive on Mahe Island the Friday prior to your program start date, to ensure that you acclimatise to the new surroundings and be on time at the meeting point on your program start date. Most people stay in the village of Beau Vallon which is right on the beach and the main centre for tourism in Mahé, with restaurants and shops close by.

It is a 1h-travelling time from La Perle Noire restaurant in Beau Vallon to the GVI Base by taxi. It is highly important that you are on time to meet the team at 11:00 on your program start date. Late arrivals will not be accommodated. Please ensure our field staff are aware of your arrival plans.

Please note: If you plan to stay in other parts of the island, you will be required to make your own way to the pick-up point.

Departure
You can depart any time on the final day, as the base is just one hour away from the airport. A transfer is provided at 08:00 to Cap Ternay or Beau Vallon. If you have a flight before 08:00, a taxi will be organised and paid for locally. All departure transfers are at your own cost.

Maaltijden

Participants take turns preparing meals for the group. Food is basic but nutritious, with vegetarian options and optional fish or meat available each week. Breakfast could be porridge, or occasionally pancakes or cereal; lunch and evening meals may include pasta, lentils and beans, rice, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, etc. We do ask you to remember that it can be difficult to cater to certain food allergies or dietary requirements due to our remote location and access to specific items. Sources of protein for vegetarians/vegans are: beans, eggs, lentils and fresh vegetables. Please feel free to bring your own supplements (protein powder, chia seeds, nutritional yeast, vitamins etc) as they will be very expensive and/or difficult to find.

Houd er rekening mee

Dive Equipment Rental
If you are renting dive equipment locally, pick it up before meeting the team at the pick-up point on Saturday (project start date) and transferring to the project.

Internet Access
You will have access to long distance communications whilst on the program, but make sure friends and family know how often they can expect to hear from you. Participants typically use internet cafes to keep in touch, with access to internet about once a week. Local SIM cards and pay-as-you-go credit can be bought affordably in the Seychelles and the signal is good in most areas. Contact your mobile/cell phone provider for more information before travelling.

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