By Annie Vidot
Hello there! My name is Annie, I am an 18 years young girl and I study “Fisheries Science“ at the Maritime Academy of Seychelles. I was born and raised in Seychelles, and my father, who was a dive instructor, instilled in me the love for the ocean. I have been working with the WiseOceans team at Four Seasons Resort Seychelles during weekends for three months and now as part of my school training, I am starting the second week of a full time work placement with WiseOceans, which will last a month. Today, as usual, I make my way to the Coral Cabana with a big smile on my face, excited to see how another amazing day at Petite Anse will unfold. Amongst the many reasons why I am keen to start my day, working on the Reef Restoration Project and learning new things about the corals is the thing I am most interested in. My enthusiasm never gets old, as the efforts made are well rewarded, and being able to see the changes and the growth of the baby corals it’s all an achievement! (you can check our coral fragments’ growth photo-gallery).
Giving a second chance of living to hundreds of tiny coral fragments, which would otherwise die, literally thrills me, as I am well aware of the role reefs have for the health of the oceans. But what about you guys? Do you know what could happen if our coral reefs are severely damaged? Let me tell you why these little animals are so important.
First and foremost, corals play an important role in the ecosystem. They are the reef builders, and provide shelter and feeding areas for a variety of marine organisms. Reefs attract fish that come there to lay their eggs, to hunt for preys, to find a safe place and hide from predators: the healthier the reef is, the more fish it will attract! Thus they play an important role for small island nations, such as Seychelles, Maldives and Mauritius, who rely on the fisheries industry as a source of income in their economy. Furthermore, a healthy reef attracts tourists, too! Every year millions of people are keen to spend their money to visit such special places, enjoy the beauty of their marine life, and experience diving and snorkeling in their warm crystal clear waters. Tourism provides job opportunities for the local people, and, when run properly, can also help the local administration preserve the natural environment.
All these elements are at the core of the “Blue Economy” concept by Gunter Pauli. The Blue Economy business model encompasses the use of marine resources for economic development without overexploiting them, and making sure that they will be available for the future generations.
Seychelles, as a small island state, has taken to heart the importance of the Blue Economy, and I am very proud that my country is keen to put in place an ethical business development model which wants to improve local people wellbeing sustaining marine resources and still preserving its environment and biodiversity.
Last but not least, there’s still more awareness raising that needs to be done. Since I started to learn more about my country’s fragile environment, I felt it’s also my responsibility to inform people about it and make sure they understand they can reduce their impact also throughout simple daily actions. Reefs need to be protected, and the more time I spend in the water, the more I am convinced that this can be achieved only through the involvement and awareness of local people too. So, as a “coral hero” I understand that I have two missions: not only to plant new baby corals in the coral nursery, but also to plant a “seed of knowledge” in the heads of my friends, relatives, schoolmates. Let’s save the corals all together!