On the 22nd of September, much of the Alphonse Island community gathered to unload essential supplies from the first barge in six months. ICS were notified when a carcass was spotted floating in the lagoon. The 10m long-dead whale washed up on shore, allowing for the collection of measurements and DNA samples, with consideration not to burst the blubbery, bloated body, which was in a state of advanced decomposition. The tail fluke was missing and the underside eaten by sharks. Strong south-east winds kept the overwhelming stench at bay, while a JCB manoeuvred the whale into its final resting place buried in the sand. Unfortunately, the next day it was re-exposed, so staff set to work on plan B – towing it back out to sea. The shape of the skull and small anterior flipper suggest that this was a Sperm Whale and analysis of genetic samples could reveal its age and sex.
ICS is also committed to educating our younger generation on the need to conserve and protect the fragile environment of Seychelles' islands. We strongly believe that education for sustainable development can help us achieve the former. The Department of Education has agreed to support us with our education and outreach programme. To kick-start, such an important partnership, ICS donated a total of 15oo educational and instructive books namely the Outer Islands of Seychelles, Zwazo Sesel and Aride Island to all public and private schools during an event held at Mont Fleuri primary school today.
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Each year, conservation staff working at the remote Alphonse Group, look forward to the shift in prevailing wind from south-east to north-west, which coincides with the return of migratory birds. Many species fly back from their breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere, to over-winter in the tropics. In particular, St. François Atoll is a magnet for many species of waders, including large flocks of Crab Plover, because the lagoons and mangroves are home to plentiful fish stocks and crustaceans.
In this relatively short period, the Conservation Team on Alphonse Island recorded 110 various bird species, but more migrating birds such as the Madagascar Cuckoo and Grey-tailed Tattler.
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COVID-19 pandemic leads to strengthened collaboration between the Seychelles Maritime Academy and Aride Island
The Seychelles Maritime Academy (SMA) responded to the call for assistance from the Island Conservation Society by sending more students than in previous years to assist our Conservation team with the island's scientific monitoring programs.
Two of the SMA students, namely Kiran Bhageerutty and Jean-Yves Lesperance, both working towards an Advanced Certificate in Fishery Science and Fish Technology were sent to the Aride Island Nature Reserve beginning of August 2020. They have been involved in the monitoring of the Aride's Seychelles Magpie Robin population, analysing invertebrate pitfall traps, patrolling the beach for nesting sea turtles, and cleaning up beach debris.
Click here to read more from Seychelles Nation or
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The Island Conservation Society (ICS) has recently partnered with Professor Mathieu Le Corre (Université de La Réunion) to carry out a two-year research project on the Red-footed Booby (Sula sula) of Farquhar Atoll. The research will explore their abundance, habitat selection and movements at sea, using GPS devices, drones and genetic sampling. The project is supported by the Islands Development Company and the Farquhar Foundation and is being funded by the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Change Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT). Results from this study will provide a vital understanding of the seabird populations and marine ecosystems of Seychelles.
Supporting young local conservation talent as part of SYAH Seychelles' Blue Economy Internship Programme!
It was a pleasure for us to host Stana Mousbe on Silhouette Island as part of her experience on SYAH- Seychelles' Blue Economy Internship Programme.
The SIDS Youth AIMS Hub (SYAH) Seychelles - which is a youth-led NGO promoting sustainable development through youth-led projects - launched the Blue Economy Internship Programme initiative in 2016. This initiative serves to promote sustainable development opportunities for young people in the Blue Economy, by exposing them to opportunities within the existing framework. The programme enables Seychellois youth aged between 15 - 30 years old to undertake a two-week internship in different local organizations that fall within the Blue Economy sector. The programme introduces youth from all types of backgrounds to the myriad of career opportunities offered by the Blue Economy, and is open to youth from Mahe, Praslin and La Digue.
The programme is now in its fourth year. ICS Seychelles has participated in all four iterations of the programme and is keen to support local conservationist talent wherever we can. Check out Stana's short vlog detailing what she got up to with our staffing team!
Our team on Desroches unearthed an exciting discovery recently!
Our Conservation Officer, Craig, found exuviae of a mystery dragonfly on blades of grass by the tortoise wallowing pool. As he watched the adult dragonflies zipping about the pool, he attempted to catch one to identify it, but they were too quick and would not stay still long enough for closer inspection. Craig was finally able to net one a couple of months later and confirm that this dragonfly was, in fact, the wonderfully named Ghost Duskdarter (Zyxomma petiolatum)!
According to our in-house experts, this is the first Seychelles record of Ghost Duskdarter outside of the inner islands that we are aware of. Described by John Bowler in his book, 'The Wildlife of Seychelles', the Ghost Duskdarter is known for its ‘rapid, darting flight low over water’ and is ‘rarely seen perched, so is hard to observe closely.’ These wonderful insects are also identifiable by their apple-green eyes and incredibly cryptic movements.
Between this and the discovery of Marsh Bluetails (Ischnura senegalensis) on the same pool this year, it would appear that an important micro-habitat is forming on Desroches, given that the wallowing pool is the only pool of its kind here!
By Desroches Island Conservation Officer, Craig Nisbet
Seychelles is a remarkable place for visiting birders throughout the year. It boasts an impressive list of endemic species; some of which may only be seen on a handful of islands. It also boasts some of the most spectacular seabird colonies in the world - particularly in the Outer Islands - where colonies of more than a million Sooty Terns can be found, as well as smaller numbers of boobies, frigatebirds, tropicbirds and other tern species. However, at this time of year - when the prevailing wind switches from the south-east to the north-west - many migrating birds in search of warmer locations after their breeding seasons in the northern hemisphere either head for these small isolated islands in the Indian Ocean, or are blown off course en route to their preferred wintering grounds in eastern and southern Africa. This means that from October onwards, the opportunity to discover new and unusual species in the region are increased dramatically.
St. François Research Expedition: Discovering Secrets of Red-footed Boobies and Greater Frigatebirds
The objective of our mission was to capture roosting seabirds on St François island and attach satellite tracking devices to them – quite a unique undertaking, as most tracking studies have focussed on breeding colonies where it is possible to check the attachment of the device and even retrieve it at a later date. Studying a non-breeding colony presents more of a challenge, but the resultant data should provide insight into their flight movements and the secrets of their preferred feeding grounds at sea.
On our most recent beach clean on Desroches Island in November, a total of 132.85kg was collected by our team and partners, which is encouragingly lower than previous months. This could reflect the change in the season, washing less rubbish ashore.
Miscellaneous items accounted for 74.45kg of the total amount of marine debris collected. Other prevalent items included: Glass (19.7kg), PET plastics (15.1kg) and Polystyrenes and styrofoam (10.2kg). Flip-flops accounted for 9.3kg, mooring buoys accounted for 2.1kg and ropes accounted for 1.7kg of all marine debris collected.
ICS Seychelles would like to thank the following partners for taking part and assisting in last month's beach clean: guests from Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island who spared a couple of hours of their holiday to contribute towards our clean-up efforts, the team at WASTEA for their logistical support, Kayleigh Hyslop from Blue Safari Seychelles and other individuals who joined the ICS team to sort the rubbish collected (which was completed in record time this month!).
Photos © Mila Sastradewi - Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island
Island Conservation Society