Why is the Project needed?
In the late 1990s the coral reefs of Seychelles suffered from extensive bleaching as a result of an El Niño event which caused the surface temperature of the sea to increase by a couple of degrees above the norm and remain that way for several months. The impact of this, in addition to subsequent lesser bleaching events and outbreaks of the coral predator crown-of-thorns starfish, is that some parts of the Petite Anse reef struggled to grow back fully over the following years.
Then in 2016, in another El Niño year, the world experienced the third mass coral bleaching event, affecting reefs globally. Still not fully recovered from the 1997/8 bleaching event, Petite Anse corals were again hit with prolonged extreme temperatures, and many bleached and died as a result.
This is why the Project is needed and we, WiseOceans and Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, are giving the reef a helping hand.
What is our aim?
The Project boldly aims to restore 10,000 square metres of degraded limestone reef through the transplantation of 16,000 coral fragments, and to increase knowledge and awareness of coral reefs and the threats they face, believing that education is the way to a better future for our seas. Taking an innovative approach, one which must overcome extreme water dynamics, voracious coral predators and an unstable substrate, the Petite Anse Reef Restoration Project is working with nature to ensure the best outcome for the reef.
How do we do it?
First, we created a coral nursery comprising lengths of steel bent into arcs and fixed to the seafloor. Now we collect fragments of coral: the actions of waves, fish, snorkellers and boat anchors result in broken coral fragments; we use these pieces and also snip fragments from live donor colonies in order to propagate corals of certain species to maintain genetic diversity or colonies that are resilient to stressors.
The coral fragments are taken to our Coral Cabana on land and carefully ‘doctored’ to be of the right size, free of algae, disease and bleaching, and then fixed to a solid surface, such as a small piece of steel. Next, they are placed in the coral nursery where they are safe from predators and grazers, and can grow bigger and stronger, attaching themselves securely onto their mobile home. In a few months, the coral fragments are strong enough to transplant out to the reef and are attached to bare areas of reef, where they will forever remain, growing big and strong as part of a thriving reef community.
Meet the team
Jordan Sutherland | Marine Educator
Jordan worked as a Divemaster and Scuba Instructor in several locations across the world before deciding to study Marine Biology and Oceanography at the University of Southampton. She kept diving whilst studying and absolutely loved connecting what she was learning in the classroom with the environment she was seeing underwater.
At WiseOceans, Jordan leads the Marine Educator team in Seychelles with additional responsibility for the day to day operations of the Reef Restoration Project in Petite Anse. Jordan really enjoys engaging with people about the ocean, hoping to help them find or enhance their passion for it. Of course, she also adores her corals!
Four Seasons Resort Seychelles
Petite Anse, a small bay in south-west Mahé, is the home of Four Seasons Resort Seychelles and the office for a lucky WiseOceans team.
WiseOceans is a marine conservation and education organisation raising awareness of our fragile oceans and the fantastic creatures that live within them.
At Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, we are deeply committed to the conservation of the marine environment on our doorstep and we have been working in partnership with WiseOceans since May 2012, establishing environmental projects to help protect the precious marine life here in Petite Anse.
These projects include the study and protection of coral, monitoring nesting and hatching turtles, and marine education programmes for staff, guests and the local community. Our work with WiseOceans is just one of many projects around the resort which promote sustainability and education on the environment for staff guests, and the local community.