Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Nadine and her turtles' action :)

Hi guys!
I am Nadine from Germany and I am currently doing an internship as part of my master’s degree in marine biology with MCSS in their terrapin and turtle monitoring program on the Seychelles.
I wanted to intern here so I could get hands-on experience on working with turtles and also to get to know the work that a conservation NGO does. Also, the Seychelles have been on my bucket list for some time now!
And so far, it’s been amazing! I get to experience new things every day and I even have the possibility to come up with my own project ideas that I can try out at work, such as waste patrolling and beach mapping.
My best experience so far was the release of Tiko, our hawksbill turtle. Formerly a pet, we had him in a tank for a few weeks for rehab and to prep him for the ocean. We snorkelled after him for a little while to make sure he was able to cope with the currents.

A few weeks ago, we also excavated the last nest of the sea turtle season – it took a while until we found it, it was burrowed pretty deep in the sand. There were about 200 eggshells and we can assume most of the little hatchlings made it safely out to the sea.
Also, I really enjoy taking part in the long-term terrapin trapping program. Each day, we go out and check the traps for terrapins, then we measure, mark and release them again. This helps us getting a good overview of the population and movements. Sometimes we also get babies! Two terrapins are long-term residents at the centre, Chichi and Seal – we keep them in old Jacuzzis that the Banyan Tree Resort donated to us. 

A couple of weeks ago, we got four new Aldabra giant tortoises from a guesthouse. We have six in total now, and they seem to get along really well. It’s funny to see how fast they can walk towards you if they are curious. They mostly feed on fruit and vegetables.

So, if you are interested in the wildlife and work we do at the centre, definitely come and pay us a visit while you are on the Seychelles! You will get a guided tour around our facilities and a lot of additional information.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Shanilla working hard

Hello, it has been almost one month now which has been just enough to get used to the working environment at the Wildlife Conservation and Rehabilitation Centre located at the Banyan Tree Resort. Everyone is so amazing here and I have enjoyed every single day, I have learned and done a lot which is a great experience.

I have helped with the sea turtle monitoring activities, beach profiling and with the daily care of Tiko, which is a juvenile hawksbill sea turtle in rehabilitation at the centre. My favourite activity is the fresh water turtles (terrapins) monitoring: I am involved in setting up the traps in the Intendance wetland and in checking them daily for any terrapins. Those that are found in our traps are brought at the centre, measured, weighted, identified, marked and then released in the same pond where they were found in.
There is so much ahead of me and I’m looking forward to new experiences in these next two months. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

My name is Cheyenne-Mae Chang-Yunn (but Cheyenne works just fine), I am a 20 year old local working with MCSS as a Field Research Assistant for The Banyan Tree Resort Project Team. 

I started on the 5th February 2018 and from then on have been assigned with mostly all the tasks carried out at the Wildlife & Rehabilitation Centre from terrapin and turtle monitoring to daily minor up keeping.

It has been just over 2 month sworking at the Centre which has been just enough to get used to the working environment and frame. 

The terrapin trapping sessions in the Intendance wetland has been put under my accountability whereby I now choose the sites of putting the traps each week, take responsibility of checking the traps, processing the terrapins caught and ensure their release and safekeeping. I have found sensation in carrying out this mission, since I have not worked with terrapins before yet hearing all about it and it has been added to the list of endemic species and sub-species of Seychelles that I have worked with.

Along with guest interaction, conducting tour guides in English and French around the centre and power point presentations, I also participate in conducting the ‘Adopt a Terrapin’ project with the guests and the wetland bird monitoring.

I have also gained the opportunity to work with one of my favorite animals - the sea turtles. I help with the monitoring activities on Anse Intendance, which is one of the most important nesting beach in the south of Mahe. I get the change to perform nest excavations, take measurements of the hatchlings (carapace length, weight, etc.) and simply observe them entering the water for the first time. 

Data recording is also part of my duties along with working on the Banyan Tree Wildlife description document and more. Additionally I have been involved in other projects such as beaches characterization and sea turtle monitoring on other beaches.

Learning something new every other day keeps the motivation high hence I am gaining more eagerness to keep on acquiring knowledge in my work and planning out research work both off and on field to smoothen my further studies in conservation work.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Saratha helping MCSS

Firstly to introduce myself, my name is Saratha Naiken. I’m 17 years old and I’m from the Seychelles Islands.

I’ve recently joined MCSS for a 2 months volunteer program.
My passion is to become either a Veterinarian or a Marine Biologist, therefore working at MCSS gives me the chance to experience varies activities such as: Sea Turtles monitoring, Freshwater turtles trapping, X-Ray observations, sand experiments etc…that I have taken part in which I find extremely useful and relevant for my future career choices.

During my first day of work at the MCSS I had the chance to encounter on the beach a critically endangered Hawksbill sea turtle that approached the shore to lay its eggs. I gained the knowledge of how and when approach a sea turtle, how to take measurements of its carapace and how to take pictures useful for photo identification. The turtle laid eggs too close to the high tide line that is why we had to relocate the nest in a safer place. 
Figure 1: Sea Turtle Nesting on Intendance beach

This was truly a beautiful and unforgettable moment I experienced in my life.

Working here at MCSS gives me the opportunity to seek new experience every single day and learn different facts and figures about the importance of the wildlife. 

Figure 2: Eggs to relocate
                                           I thank the entire MCSS team for supporting me and guiding me through all the daily tasks and I am truly proud to be part of this volunteer program and I hope to contribute in the future in the conservation of the wildlife and in the preservation of my country in general.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Sebastian working in the wetlands :)

Hey everyone, my name is Sebastian and I am an Intern at the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles. I am from Germany, 24 years old, studying Environmental Sciences in the Netherlands.
I have spent 13 weeks at MCSS so far and seven more are to come.When I arrived in the Seychelles I started working on the AFCCP (Anse Forbans Community Conservation Program) and continued working on it throughout my internship. The AFCCP includes working with Terrapins, the Anse Forbans Community and some of their projects (e.g. Anse Capucins Hike) and the wetlands of Anse Forbans.

The office (Wildlife Conservation and Rehabilitation Center) where the team conducts research is located in the Banyan Tree resort at Anse Intendance in the South-West of Mahé. The team here is lovely and incredibly welcoming. The motto ‘One team – One dream’ was implemented and is now a solid part of the working environment here.

Figure 1: Anse Intendance
Sometimes there are classes coming to the Wildlife Conservation and Rehabilitation Center, ranging from primary schools to university level. Each of them will be given a tour through our center, which explains the projects that are worked on in and out of the center, followed by a wetland tour to experience our work in the wetlands firsthand. Vice versa we visit local schools and Seychelles University to give presentations in order to implement conservational knowledge in the educational system of the Seychelles.

When it comes to field work most of it is done in the wetlands of Anse Forbans, Anse Royale and Anse Intendance. Anse Forbans and Anse Royale are mainly for Terrapin trapping whereas Anse Intendance, next to Terrapin trapping, is also for Turtle and Bird monitoring as it includes not only wetlands, but a great beach for turtle nesting, too.
In 2016 the Anse Intendance beach was #2 in having the most turtle nests on Mahé.
Figure 2: Plastron of a Black Mud Turtle

Most of the work I have done here so far includes Terrapins. The purpose of the Terrapin trapping is to determine the amount of Terrapins that is there in the Seychelles (Mahé only). There are two species of Terrapins in the Seychelles; Black Mud turtle and Yellow Bellied turtle. The Yellow Bellied terrapin is listed as critically endangered in the IUCN list so it is important to determine how many of them are left.

Figure 3: Carapace of a Black Mud Turtle with nail polish
on it as identification mark

Once a Terrapin is caught the species and sex will be determined, they are weighed and measured and marked with nail polish on the carapace (Friendly way of tagging a terrapin). Everything will be noted down and also saved in the database. Then a picture of the Carapace and Plastron will be taken. The picture of the Plastron is going to be used for the database (local database of MCSS) of already captured Terrapins.  In case there is a recapture it will show the recorded Terrapin as the Plastron is always unique. After that process they are released back into the wetlands, in the same site where they were found, in order for them to continue following their natural behavior.

Time flies when you are having fun. I hope the next seven weeks are just as great as the ones that have already passed. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Felicitas learning Seychelles wildlife...

Time is just flying here and that’s only because it is so much fun to work here at MCSS in the awesome team at the Conservation and Rehabilitation Centre at the Banyan Tree Resort, located at Anse Intendance. 
The first three weeks have passed and I have already learned very much – for that I´m really grateful!
I´m 24 years old and I´m studying Biology with a focus on Ecology, Evolution and social Behavior in the 2nd semester in the Masters program at the University Constance, in Germany.
My work here at MCSS is quite diverse ranging from monitoring of Terrapins, Sea Turtles and Birds to cleaning the Wetlands and the vegetation near the sea. I am also involved in educational tasks for guests visiting the Centre or preparations of events e.g. in schools.
So far I have caught one Black Mud Terrapin, which was not identified yet – so I could choose a new name for him: “Liwo”.
Another nice experience was a workshop at the University about diseases of amphibians, their threats and potential improvements of problems. It was interesting to see how the different environmental groups work together. Furthermore we could already apply our newly learned skills at an amphibian excursion in Sans-Souci.
The next special event in which I participated was the 20th birthday of MCSS and the opening  of the first ex-situ coral gardening tanks in the Seychelles at the Le Meridian Fisherman's Cove.

I am looking forward to new experiences in the next 5 weeks!
A big thank you to the MCSS team for doing such a good work, for making the world a bit better! 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sarah-Jane enjoying MCSS

I have been interning with MCSS for 3 weeks now, and I have just one left. The amazing people (best bosses ever!) here have made the time fly by. The other interns are a lot of fun to work with and make the time both in the field and in the office entertaining. 

We do most of our work out in the field and every day is different. The project leaders keep us busy with the tasks needed to keep the different projects running.

I joined the Wildlife Conservation and Rehabilitation project at the Banyan Tree Resort and our main tasks so far have been beach patrols, bird surveys and terrapin trapping. The beach patrols are a really important part of the work we do here, especially during the Hawksbill sea turtles nesting season – September to March. We collect data on the nesting beaches and also ensure that tourists and locals don’t interfere with the turtles. The bird surveys and terrapin trapping projects provide data on their populations. The terrapins that are caught are weighed, measured, marked with some pretty nail varnish and added to an identification database. They are always released the same day. There is only one animal permanently at the centre – Chichi the black mud terrapin who was kept for too long as a pet and now cannot be rehabilitated. Chichi has his own converted hot tub home and is spoilt with lots of fish treats. 

We are also currently trying to raise funds to expand the rehabilitation project for giant tortoises that have been kept in captivity as pets.

The MCSS team is incredible and they are doing amazing work in the Seychelles for conservation. 
I hope that I get a chance to come back again one day!