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Program Details
2 Weeks From £ 1,145.00
Code: SCMH0801P

Giant Tortoise and Biodiversity Research in Seychelles

Join us in contributing towards protecting the giant tortoises and the incredible island ecology of Seychelles.

UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • 14
  • 15
  • 17

Our Impact


Location

Volunteer in Mahe and Curieuse

Experience the beautiful Indian Ocean paradise of the Seychelles islands. We operate two bases in the inner granitic islands, both within National Marine Parks next to stunning palm-fringed beaches and forested areas. Our Cap Ternay marine expedition base is located on the NE coast of Mahe adjacent to the spectacular Baie Ternay Marine Park. Curieuse Island and its surrounding waters are rich in wildlife, the setting for terrestrial and construction programs. The paradise of the Seychelles is the ideal location to volunteer, gain new skills on our internships or enjoy a short volunteer holiday in a well-preserved and tranquil tropical archipelago.


Program Information

Discover the stunning Curieuse Island when you sign up for our giant tortoise and biodiversity research program. As a valued member of our research team you will contribute to vital conservation efforts to preserve some of the island’s most important species. While in Seychelles you will enjoy living at a remote research station on one of the world’s most beautiful islands. Assist in making a valuable contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goal #15, Life on Land, as you join our international team to compile crucial research on the local ecology and species.
Overview Project Life Project Details Free Time The Team Dates & Costs

Overview

Journey to Curieuse Island and its surrounding waters to take part in vital conservation initiatives in this stunning part of the world. We have partnered with the Seychelles National Parks Authority to ensure that our efforts are viable and bring about a sustainable impact.

Our beach-front camp is located on the white sand beach of Anse St. Jose and overlooks Praslin (Seychelles' second largest island), a short boat ride away. Our island conservation team comprises of a group of passionate international participants who assist on a variety of priority conservation projects. Expect to work with an abundance of flora and fauna whilst living the island life and learning new skills to boost your future career!

Highlights
- Live and work on our remote beachfront base camp
- Work with an international group of like minded individuals
- Develop the techniques you need to survey and monitor giant tortoises
- Collect data about the local fauna and flora
- Contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goal #15, Life on Land

Testimonial

"I gained invaluable field surveying experience which helped to solidify what I want to spend the rest of my life doing. I have applied to university to study Environmental Science and hopefully pursue a career in environmental research."
- Eilidh Johnston (United Kingdom)

Program Details

What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check (where necessary)
  • Visa costs

GVI Live

Here, divers spotted a pair of whitetip reef sharks while out diving in the coral reef off the coast of our base on Mahe Island, Seychelles. Whitetip reef sharks are one of the most common sharks found on the Indo-Pacific coral reefs. They are rarely aggressive towards humans, though they may get quite curious of divers. During the day, whitetip reef sharks spend much of their time resting inside caves. Unlike other species of shark, these ones don’t have to keep moving to draw air from the water. They are found almost exclusively in coral reef habitats. Whitetip reef sharks are most often spotted around coral heads, over sandy flats, in lagoons, and near drop-offs to deeper water. They prefer very clear water and rarely swim far from the bottom. On our Marine Conservation Expedition in Seychelles you will Scuba Dive in the Indian Ocean and conduct research towards conserving critical coral reefs. Sign up for summer in Mahe here: http://bit.ly/2nsMM1e

3 days ago

Bushwise

The Ecology of Astronomy, for all those Astronomy lovers out there - https://t.co/SV6iaz96JP https://t.co/CQudTMsYyG

19 hours ago

Project Life

Living in this remote area of the world is a huge privilege as you are spoilt with untouched beaches and surrounded by a plethora of island species.

Get ready to learn about the wide range of fauna and flora found on Curieuse and assist on a wide range of conservation efforts as you rotate between projects. You will spend the majority of your time on foot working in the forests and on the beaches, experiencing different field techniques and varied project sites.

You should expect to work up to 5 ½ days each week, Monday to Friday, with weekends free for you to explore the surrounding area, snorkel, dive or just enjoy island living.

Accommodation
At the end of each workday, you will return to our base with the rest of your team to relax together. Life on the base will be simple island living, sleeping in basic dormitory style accommodation with shared bathrooms. You will share camp duties on a rotational basis, as well as sleeping in shared dormitory style accommodation.

What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check (where necessary)
  • Visa costs

Project Details

Participants on this program will get involved with research about the local giant tortoises and the overall health of the ecosystem around the Curieuse Island National Park. Giant tortoises were relocated to Curieuse Island in the 1980s as part of conservation efforts to protect the species. Over the last thirty years, the population has reproduced successfully and spread throughout the island. GVI conducts an annual census of the tortoise population and records key measurements on growth and distribution.

The census work consists of hiking throughout Curieuse to search for tortoises within each survey area. When encountered, each individual is scanned for a P.I.T. tag and tagged if not present, then various measurements are taken. We can then follow each individual from year to year. Our aim for the free-ranging tortoises is to account for 95% of the known population each year, and tag any new encounters.

We also have a significant captive population of juvenile giant tortoises, collected by GVI and national park rangers. They are housed in a secure nursery until they are large enough to survive in the wild free from predation by introduced predators. We tag any new additions to the nursery and regularly monitor the juveniles to track their health and growth rates.

We partner with Seychelles National Parks Authority and depending on their needs and the specific season we are in, you may also get involved in a range of other projects, including:

Lemon Shark Project: The mangrove system on Curieuse Island is an important nursery ground for the sicklefin lemon shark (Negaprion acutidens). GVI Seychelles is conducting a capture and release study of the shark population using P.I.T. tags and acoustic tracking.
Coco de Mer Survey: The endemic Coco de Mer has the largest seed of all living plants and is found only on the islands of Praslin and Curieuse. Following on from a successful census of the trees covering Curieuse Island the GVI team is now conducting a growth study of these charismatic palms.
Mangrove Distribution Surveys: We investigate seedling recruitment and mortality, and further determine species distribution across the mangroves.
Hawksbill Turtle Surveys: Throughout nesting season, GVI conducts patrols of the beaches, recording data on nesting turtles, and tagging females.
Environmental Education Classes: Spreading awareness and educating the local community about conservation practices.
Baited Remote Underwater Video Surveys: Recording fish species inhabiting the north shoreline of Curieuse Island.
Beach Profiling Surveys: Monitoring the changes in the beaches of Curieuse between years and seasons.
Re-vegetation of endemic flora.

How this project makes a difference
The majority of your time on the program will be spent in the field, conducting surveys or gathering data. As our participant, you gain a well-rounded understanding of the island’s biodiversity, you develop your conservation skills and assist in crucial data recording. Data collected from your efforts are passed to the Seychelles Ministry of Environment and participating NGOs to be used in creating local conservation policies and shared worldwide with other conservation teams and efforts. In conjunction with our partners, we are one of the leading marine and terrestrial data collection organisations in Seychelles. We help local organisations execute projects that they do not have the manpower to do alone.

Curieuse's short, mid, and long-term objectives
All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfill our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in Curieuse:
1. Increase scientific knowledge and baseline data on the health of ecosystems on Curieuse Island.
2. Increase awareness of GVI Seychelles projects and the ecological value of the Curieuse Island National Parks in-country.
3. Build local capacity to support long-term conservation of biodiversity and sustainable community development in Seychelles.
4. Continue to minimise our environmental impact on Curieuse Island and raise awareness of environmental issues amongst volunteers and visitors.

What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check (where necessary)
  • Visa costs

Free Time

Participating with GVI not only allows you to get involved in programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your downtime or further afield either before or after your programme. Below is some information on trips and travel options in the Seychelles.

Optional Side Trips
Volunteers may have the opportunity to visit the islands of Praslin and La Digue. Praslin is home to the Vallee de Mai (a world heritage site) thought by early explorers to be the original “Garden of Eden”, that is home to the famous Coco de Mer palm tree that produces the huge double nut renowned for its provocative shape. La Digue is the picture perfect tropical island, small and intimate with quaint guest houses and arguably the most beautiful beach in the world - Anse Source d’Argent.

Public transport is cheap and frequent and many parts of Praslin can be explored easily by catching a bus. Many volunteers spend happy times bouncing around the island roads on buses taking in the beautiful scenery whilst enjoying the company of locals going about their daily business.

Further Travelling Opportunities
With 115 islands in the Seychelles group stretching over 800 miles, the possibilities of exploring this tropical paradise are endless. The inner islands, situated closer to Mahe are easily accessible by fast ferry. Praslin, La Digue, Silhouette, Felicite and The Sisters, to name a few, all have their own unique charms with hotels and guest houses within most people’s price range.

The outer islands such as Desroche, Bird, Dennis, Farquar and the Amirantes group are harder to get to and can only be reached by small plane or charter yacht. Most have small exclusive resorts which can be extremely expensive, but the marine environment and bird life at these outposts of civilisation have been barely marked by the hand of man, and as such are in a pristine condition rarely found anywhere in the world today.

The Team

Hannah Smith

Science Coordinator
Meet Hannah, our dynamic Science Coordinator on Cap Ternay. Hannah completed her Masters degree in Ecosystem-based Management of Marine Systems, is a PADI Open Water Instructor, she enjoys rock and heavy metal music and used to be competitive at cross country running in the snow and cold of northern England.

While travelling Hannah always carries a pen knife or multi-tool, a well-stocked first aid kit (having been known to be quite accident prone) and an open mind!

She joined GVI as a volunteer in Fiji back in 2013. "I was impressed with the high quality training the volunteers received and that the data being collected was being used directly to educate local communities and contribute towards helping Locally Managed Marine Areas in Fiji."

Tom Colston

Science Officer
Meet Tom, an experienced GVI Science Officer. In addition to his degree in Marine Geography, Tom is also a qualified PADI Divemaster and has his off-shore skippers license.

With an obvious love for the ocean, he never travels anywhere without his surfboard and recommends it as the one travel must-have for everyone.

He spent 6 adventure-filled months travelling Europe in a converted van and prior to joining GVI he volunteered with MCSS.

Tom is especially proud to be a part of an organisation like GVI and the strong conservation work and research that we carry out worldwide.

Josie Woodgate

Science Officer
Meet Josie, or JosieJoJo, as her friends call her. She is our Science Officer in Cap Ternay and obtained a degree in Marine Geography and is an avid diver. She completed her Divemaster in Thailand during at three-month internship."I loved sharing species knowledge with my customers."

Josie is a well-travelled adventure seeker and first started out with GVI in Mexico on a six month internship. Her favourite hobby is hula hooping and she always takes her camera on any trip.

"I love working towards aiding and inspiring the local community in the management of their marine resources, combined with the dayto-day challenges that living on base has to throw at you. I love island life!"

Morgan Purdy

Science Officer
Meet Morgan, one of our awesome Science Officers here on Curieuse. She completed her degree in Marine Science and Ecology and is also PADI Open Water certified.

What first attracted Morgan to GVI? "I met a fellow volunteer while I was volunteering on the Eastern Pacific Leatherback Turtle and Eastern Pacific Green Sea Turtle project in Costa Rica, who had previously volunteered with GVI in the Seychelles. She said nothing but great things about her time with GVI and I knew that I had to experience it for myself."

"I love the fact that I am working for an organisation that is actually making a difference in the world, and that we can share it with others, increasing awareness and understanding. To me, GVI is making the world a better place."

Catherine Forsyth

Science Officer
Meet Catherine, our enthusiastic Science Officer on Curieuse. She completed her Masters degree in Marine Systems and Policies and joined GVI as she was looking to gain field experience, to compliment her degree. Cathereine started our as a 3 month intern on our island conservation expedition here on Curieuse.

Apart from her conservation experience, Catherine has also done voluntary work in Scotland with the Woodland Trust, TCV, Riding for the Disabled, and JAPES. While travelling in and around Seychelles she's learnt that mosquitoes tend to love her and she always makes sure she has a stash of Tiger Balm and Sudocrem.

"I love being part of an organisation with such a strong family feel and how every day is different and interesting."

Ahtee Labonte

Research Assistant
Meet Ahthee, our Research Assistant here on Curiuese Island. Ahtee has extensive knowledge and experience in conservation and he joined GVI to live out his passion and love for conserving our environment. He is always smiling and always happy to help and has a good eye for identifying research objects on the sea shore.

Ahtee especially loves conducting turtle and shark surveys on the island. He recommends that everyone should visit the South American countries at least once, after they've visited Seychelles first of course!

He is a valued member of our team and sees his job as fun, educational and the best thing of all is being immersed in nature doing outdoor activities.

Jim Clark

Base Manager
Meet Jim, our Base Manager in Cap Ternay (Mahe). Jim has several years of travel and volunteer experience behind his name. He has a BSc in Environmental Science and has been involved in various marine conservation research projects.

Jim was first attracted to GVI by our focus of making a difference. "Also GVI has a big push for the volunteers needs; to gain experience and certifications makes the whole idea of volunteering much better for all involved."

"My office is a stunning beach or being underwater! Working and living with people can be difficult, but they become your good friends and you are able to enjoy life in paradise together."

Rosabella Mangroo

Research Assistant
Meet Rosabella, our awesome research assistant. Rosabella is a Seychelles national and was a participant in our National Scholarship Program before she started working us. "I am thrilled to have an opportunity to discover the underwater world and contribute to monitoring of the reef which has both ecological and economical importance for my country."

She is taking a gap year from her Bsc. Environmental Science degree before she continues with her final year of studies. Her previous work experience has mainly been in the Human Resources field yet she never gave up on her dream of living to help the world's environment. Her favourite part of her job is diving and she especially enjoys doing wreck dives.

Bella recommends that you make a travel list before any trip to ensure that you have all the things you need and that your favourite things are present.

Dave Rowe

Dive Officer
Meet Dave, our knowledgeable dive officer in Seychelles. Dave has always had a passion for the ocean and when the opportunity came to volunteer in the Seychelles he jumped at it. Since then he kept up with everything GVI and Seychelles and now he's back on the island as a GVI staff member!

Apart from his diverse range of skills and knowledge he is also a member of Greenpeace International, Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and Oxfam International. Dave has also volunteered all over the world, from beach care to dive clean-ups and wildlife conservations programs in Australia, Europe and USA.

This well-travelled Aussie recommends that everyone should travel to a country where you don’t speak the language at least once and then you're left to do it alone and figure things out for yourself!

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

Peter Kowalski

Science Officer
Meet Peter, our Science Officer in Seychelles. Peter previously volunteered with GVI in Costa Rica and has extensive experience working with and researching green turtles in Canada, USA and Taiwan.

This well-travelled nature lover has also created a short nature documentary related to turtle conservation. He holds a Master of Science in Marine Biology and can speak a total of four languages!

"I was first attracted to GVI by the exciting research being conducted on Curieuse, as well as the chance to work for an organisation that aids and empowers local communities in the management of their marine resources."

Chris Mason-Parker

Country Director
Meet Chris, our Country Director for Seychelles. Chris first joined GVI back in 2009 as Field Staff on a Marine Conservation Expedition in Mexico before transferring to Seychelles a year later.

Chris says there have been numerous highlights to working for GVI, not least the opportunity to encounter some amazing creatures, including whale sharks, giant tortoises and nesting turtles. The most satisfaction though has been seeing the Seychelles programmes develop and diversify over the years. Today GVI Seychelles projects are conducting research and collecting critical data on numerous species within a variety of habitats; an achievement that would not be possible without the volunteers.

Chris’ favourite part of the job is its unpredictability from one day to the next. Whether it is meeting with project partners and government ministers, or standing knee deep in murky water attempting to catch a lemon shark, no two days are ever the same!

Andrea Ezeta Watts

Science Officer
Meet Andy, one of the Science Officers and also one of our newest staff members. Andy holds a degree in Biology and is a certified Dive Master and boat driver. Originally from Mexico city Andy worked in a Science communication office, where she was in charge of designing board games, writing TV scripts and collaborating in a radio program.

Lucky for us, Andy got fed up with her life in the city and started looking for a way to develop her biology skills in the field. She came across GVI and volunteered as one of our National Scholarship participants. Having impressed everyone by the end of the programme, Andy was offered a temporary staff position on our turtle monitoring programme and is now the newest edition to our growing team in Mexico and now is working for us in the Seychelles.

Andy is also a professional fencer! She has travelled the world competing in international tournaments and was one of the best fencers in Mexico before she retired. So if you fancy testing your fencing skills while visiting our projects, don't forget to challenge her to a friendly dual!

Alan Grant

Base Manager
Alan joined GVI as the Curieuse Island Terrestrial Conservation Project Science Officer in April 2014. Since completing his degree in Aquatic Bioscience at Glasgow University in Scotland he has spent several years living and working in field stations in a variety of science, management and technical roles in Scotland, the Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Islands. He has always had a passion for tropical island field projects, so following a five year spell as a Park Ranger back home the Curieuse base was an excellent step to take.

Alan loves the challenge of island life, and the more remote the better. When not out in the field he can commonly be found up a ladder, in a water tank or somewhere in the workshop! He also gets a lot of satisfaction out of getting to know the constant stream of new volunteers and sharing his fascination with them of all that Curieuse has to offer, on camp, on the terrestrial surveys, and in and on the water.

 

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What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting
  • What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check (where necessary)
  • Visa costs