The people of the Seychelles have a close and ancient relationship with the ocean as a source of food, yet few of them dip below its surface to explore what it has to offer beyond a livelihood. Our Marine Explorers Programme would like to change that. It’s all about enabling young Seychellois to experience the magnificent marine life found in their country. Some of them want to learn more about topics that already interest them and to spend more time snorkelling in the sea they already love. Others are experiencing a whole new world, discovering a curiosity about what lies beneath the waves, donning snorkel gear for the first time and finding out about the ocean for themselves.
It started in June 2014, when we at the SOSF Island School Seychelles spread the word that we were looking for enthusiastic individuals to join the Marine Explorers Programme. Designed to run over two weeks, the programme introduces students to different coastal habitats in the Seychelles and looks at their importance, the animals that live in them and the threats that they face. This is achieved by a combination of indoor lessons and exploring the outdoor environment, including with a snorkel every day. We launched the application process and visited nine secondary schools on Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, speaking to more than 1,000 students. We received more than a hundred applications, which were judged by representatives from the Save Our Seas Foundation, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Environment and Energy, and Global Vision International (GVI Seychelles).
The selection process was completed and 24 enthusiastic explorers took part in the first week of the programme during the August–September school holiday, completing their second week in the December holiday. Our headquarters was the GVI Seychelles base at Cap Ternay on Mahé, a great location that provided both indoor space and access to a variety of ecosystems to explore. With Baie Ternay National Marine Park right on the doorstep and Port Launay National Marine Park nearby, we couldn’t have asked for a better ‘classroom’.
The SOSF Island School Seychelles (SOSF–ISS) focuses solely on marine environmental education and awareness and recognises the importance of making a real investment in environmental education. We believe in the words of Senegalese conservationist Baba Dioum: ‘In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught.’ Since we began in 2014, we have reached thousands of students across all ages throughout the Seychelles.