Several organisations are doing incredible marine conservation work in Seychelles, leading the way to keep our oceans protected and thriving. One in particular, Save Our Seas Foundation, is making significant steps in shark and ray conservation.
Save Our Seas is a global marine conservation foundation that aims to protect ocean life, especially sharks and rays. It supports researchers, conservationists and educators by funding projects to help achieve this aim. The foundation has centres in Florida, Seychelles and South Africa, all dedicated to learning about sharks and rays.
In Seychelles, Save Our Seas runs a research centre on D’Arros Island and St Joseph Atoll, which are situated in the Outer Islands of Seychelles and form part of a small chain of islands that comprise the Amirantes. Because of their inaccessibility, infertile soils and lack of fresh water, the Outer Islands have long been regarded as unsuitable for permanent habitation. Today, conservation and tourism are the main activities there.
Save Our Seas’ D’Arros Island Centre was established to preserve and showcase the ecological integrity of D’Arros Island and St Joseph Atoll through research, monitoring, restoration and education. Although D’Arros Island and St Joseph Atoll are separated by a channel one kilometre wide, they are considered a single ecological unit as their ecosystems are inextricably linked. The area is an incredibly rich bio-diverse hotspot.
One project run by the centre focuses on researching young blacktip reef sharks and sicklefin lemon sharks. As sharks do not look after their young, but instead choose a safe place to give birth, the centre is looking at how the young sharks interact while growing up together. By assessing baby sharks in such a remote coastal ecosystem and investigating how natural resources are shared between them, the team’s findings will inform general management and conservation strategies for young sharks in nursery habitats.
A global rise in fishing and habitat loss, as well as biological vulnerabilities, has resulted in a shark population decline. Additionally, many shark populations lack baseline data, which hamper management and conservation efforts. The Save Our Seas team’s research continues to add to the understanding of sharks and will help improve their conservation worldwide.