Collect data on coral reef health and recovery following climate-change-induced coral bleaching events while earning your PADI Advanced Open Water.
Coral bleaching occurs when vibrantly coloured algae that live symbiotically on coral structures flee as a result of environmental stress such as warming water. Without the alage, corals lose their main food source and become more brittle as well as more susceptible to disease.
Over the past two decades, several ocean warming events, also known as El Niños, have been recorded. It has been shown that these events are tied to overall global warming caused by an overabundance of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a result of relying on fossil fuels for human energy needs.
During the ocean warming event of 1998, it is estimated that the Seychelles lost up to 90 per cent of its coral reefs. During this time initiatives were begun to monitor coral reef recovery. GVI have been monitoring coral reefs in the Seychelles since 2004 in partnership with The Seychelles Centre for Marine Research & Technology, SCMRT, the Seychelles National Parks Authority, SNPA, and Reef Care International. We were monitoring the reef during the 2016 coral bleaching event.
Besides participating in coral reef recovery monitoring and coral reef rehabilitation, volunteers should expect to get involved in a range of activities, mostly land-based, centred around United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #14, Life Below Water. Some of these might include beach and ocean floor cleanups and subsequent marine debris surveys and environmental education sessions with the local community.
Weekends are yours explore the stunning scenery and the unique Creole culture of the Seychelles. Book a recreational dive to spot manta rays and dolphins, go hiking up Morne Blanc or Morne Seychellois, go island hopping around the more than 100 islands of the Seychelles archipelago, or visit the capital of Victoria to sample Seychellois cuisine.
On this program, you will be trained up on diving best practices, earning your PADI Advanced Open Water and PADI Coral Reef Research Speciality certificates before starting your monitoring of the reef. Please note that you will need to be PADI Open Water certified before joining this program.
After completing your dive training and learning how to identify coral species and how to carry out different coral monitoring techniques, you will assist our international team of researchers to monitor specific dive sites for coral reef recovery. Depending on weather conditions, we aim for all participants to have the opportunity to experience one or two dives or snorkels per day during weekdays. All the data collected on these dives is passed on to the Seychelles National Parks Authority, for use in their management decisions.
You will also have the opportunity to participate in our coral reef rehabilitation initiatives, where we work to grow the most resilient coral in shallow water, protected coral nurseries and then transplant the, now larger and more established, corals onto the reef.
You will be based in and around the national parks in the main group of islands, and working on coral reefs in and around the main group of islands. Travelling around the local area is fairly easy and is best done using the (very cheap) local bus service, although access to and from the base can be difficult so travel may be limited to weekend breaks. For further exploration you may choose to hire a car or make use of the inter-island ferry services.
In your down time you will be free to travel in the local area and can expect one or two free days per week, usually at weekends. In this time you could explore the islands of Praslin or La Digue, visit the capital of Mahé, Victoria, visit local beaches, snorkel or just relax on base. Before and after your program you could spend a little more time in the Seychelles on the inner islands of Praslin and La Digue, or join a charter to sail even further afield. Please allow several days if you hope to travel between islands, there are over 100 in the archipelago but getting around takes time – the possibilities are endless!