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Marine Conservation Expedition in the Seychelles

Scuba Dive in the Indian Ocean on this critical conservation expedition


Program Information

Get your PADI Advanced and PADI Coral Reef Research Diver qualification as a member of an expedition working on critical marine conservation projects in the pristine islands of the Seychelles. Your participation in marine species research will contribute towards providing data to the local government on various conservation initiatives.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

Travel to the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean as a a member of an expedition and work on critical marine conservation projects amongst the beautiful islands of the Seychelles.

You will contribute towards various conservation-related surveys aimed at providing data to the local government on coral reef research, invertebrate surveys and turtle breeding areas.



Highlights Include

Learning how to identify fish and coral in the Indian Ocean; visiting and diving amongst tropical islands; taking your PADI Advanced and PADI Coral Reef Research Diver courses, taking other extra dive courses at discounted rates with local dive shops, enjoying fun-dives and searching for the incredible ‘mega-fauna’ in the area, such as sharks, rays, and dolphins; developing the techniques you need to survey coral reefs, exploring different dive sites, visiting breeding areas for the hawksbill and green turtle; having an amazing and unique adventure amongst some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

Scuba Diving Requirements

You will spend the majority of your time on this expedition scuba diving and as such you need to be qualified to at least PADI Open Water, or equivalent.  For non-divers wishing to attend, we can recommend local dive centers that will help you qualify before your intended start date.

Program Details

Project Life

Depending on weather conditions, we aim for everyone to have 1 or 2 dives/snorkels each day, 5 days a week, during which you will conduct underwater surveys after completion of your training. Besides diving, you should expect to be involved in additional projects and activities, including training sessions, marine debris surveys and removal or environmental education sessions, depending on local and project needs. You will also be required to complete base duties.

At the end of each day you will eat, relax and socialise with the rest of the team as you recount your sightings from below the surface. Life on the base will be simple island living, sleeping in basic dormitory style accommodation with shared bathrooms as well as sharing cooking and cleaning duties around base.

Weekends will be yours to explore the beautiful surrounding area and islands as you immerse yourself in the Creole culture of the Seychelles.

Project Details

The aims and efforts of the expedition have been agreed upon in conjunction with the Seychelles National Parks Authority, local government agencies and non-governmental organisations to include:

  • Coral reef monitoring and recovery research

  • Invertebrate and fish surveys

  • Sea Turtle research

  • Development of an environmental education and awareness program


You should keep in mind that projects conducted are dependent on the season and the priorities always remain with our local working partners.

Cap Ternay'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 visualize 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 Cap Ternay:

1. To provide a long term and consistent collection of data, assessing the overall health and development of the reef system within Northern Mahe, Seychelles, on behalf of the Seychelles National Parks Authority, to be used for regional coastal marine management and international understanding of changing reef systems.
2. Increase the scientific output and awareness of the project through publication of findings
3. Continue to support the President's Village Children's Home aim of providing a safe and friendly environment for children under the age of 18
4. Increase in-country capacity by providing training in environmental education and training
5. Continue to minimize our environmental impact at Cap Ternay and raise awareness of environmental issues amongst volunteers and visitors

How this project makes a difference:

With substantial contributions from our partners, we are the leading marine data collection organisation in the Seychelles.

Much of this data is used by other organisations in the Seychelles.  For example, the Seychelles government relies on this data to show an accurate picture of the overall health of the local coral reefs when setting and creating new management policies.

Your Impact

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. 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 fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.


Healthy corals are key to the health of our planet. They help fish populations regenerate themselves providing shelter for young fish, they assist in removing excess carbon dioxide from our atmosphere, and protect living spaces near the shore from damage by waves and storms.


In 1998 a massive coral bleaching event decimated many coral reefs around the globe, including the reefs surrounding the inner granitic islands of the Seychelles. Coral bleaching occurs when rising water temperatures cause the algae that live on corals to detach themselves from their hosts. Algae is the main food source for corals and helps to maintain the structure of the corals. Warm waters are the result of climate change caused by excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.


Efforts to monitor the recovery of reefs in the Seychelles were initiated after the 1998 event. This began with a 3 year project, named the Shoals of Capricorn, which extensively monitored the entire inner islands. The Seychelles Centre for Marine Research & Technology, SCMRT, was set up at this time to continue the work, and to aid the Seychelles National Parks Authority, SNPA, with the management of the marine parks. After the Shoals of Capricorn project the monitoring was then taken over by Reef Care International.


In addition to the high seasonal sea temperatures, the coral reefs around the Seychelles, face numerous other threats such as population pressure, poaching, and sustainable tourism, all of which are challenging to quantify without a solid, scientific basis. In order to effectively manage and conserve the reef, a continuous monitoring program is necessary to build up a comprehensive picture of the ecological health of the reef.


Coral and Fish Surveys


We established our project in the Seychelles in 2004 with the aim of aiding SNPA. At over 20 sites across the North-West coast of Mahe, GVI staff and participants use the protocols of Reef Care International in order to survey the reefs noting the health of existing coral, evidence of new young coral growing on the reef, as well as fish species present and their numbers. Data on coral recovery, as well as fish abundance and diversity is passed on to the SNPA to assist with their management decisions, which might include updates to policies, expanding currently protected areas, or protecting additional areas. In addition, participants use a different coral monitoring technique, to provide data to CoralWatch, a worldwide coral monitoring methodology, based in Queensland University, Australia, which aims to monitor coral bleaching and recovery events around the globe.


Commercial Marine Species Surveys


Unsustainable fishing is also a threat to the health of the Seychellois marine life. In addition this also affects the wellbeing of the local community, because many rely on fish for daily sustenance, and the growth of the local economy, because seafood from the Seychelles is sold to international visitors to the islands and consumers abroad. Its underwater treasures are also the reason why many visit every year, bringing capital into the country. We assist Seychelles Fishing Authority, SFA with monitoring commonly harvested species like octopus, lobster, and sea cucumber populations.


Marine Megafauna Sightings


Incidental sightings of marine megafauna like tiger sharks and manta rays, occur frequently during dives, and this information is noted and passed on to the Ocean Biogeographic Information System or OBIS Seamap, an online database designed to keep track of various larger marine species around the world.  


Marine Plastic Pollution Cleanups


Ocean floor clean up dives are also regularly conducted as part of the Dive Against Debris or DAD initiative. The data about marine plastics collected is sent on to Project AWARE an organisation established to monitor the abundance and diversity of marine debris around the world.


Environmental Education


Environmental education is also an important part of our GVI Mahe program. The  main aim of this program is to get locals involved in discussions around issues affecting their marine environment.


The main United Nations Sustainable Development Goal we work on at GVI Mahe is  #14, Life Below Water.


Our Partners In Mahe

Project Objectives

 


GVI Mahe, Seychelles Long-term Objectives:


1. Provide a long-term and consistent collection of data, assessing the overall health and development of the reef system in Northern Mahe on behalf of the Seychelles National Parks Authority, SNPA, to be used for regional coastal marine management and international understanding of changing reef systems.


2. Increase the scientific output and awareness of the project through publication of findings.


3. Continue to support the International School of Seychelles by providing their students with environmental education with a strong focus on marine ecosystems and their inhabitants.


4. Increase in-country capacity by providing training in environmental education and training to local communities and by offering placement opportunities for students.


5. Continue to minimise our environmental impact at Cap Ternay and raise awareness of environmental issues amongst participants and visitors.


What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


 

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.


However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.


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
  • Community work workshop
  • Coral reef ecology
  • Diving compressor training workshop
  • First Aid & CPR training
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • National Park fees and permits
  • PADI Advanced Open Water
  • PADI Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Speciality
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Use of O2 equipment workshop
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • PADI Open Water
  • Personal dive kit, e.g. mask, fins, wetsuit, timer etc.
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — Traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.


Support

Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Safety

Upon arrival at the airport participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. Our minimum staff to participant ratio is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.


Health & Safety Case Studies

19 Nov

HOW GVI UPHOLDS HEALTH AND SAFETY

It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.


1 Nov

GVI’S COMMITMENT TO SAFETY AND SECURITY

As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.


6 Nov

HOW GVI REMAINS PREPARED FOR NATURAL DISASTERS

The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.


5 Nov

HOW GVI MANAGES PARTICIPANTS EXPECTATIONS

Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.


Country Exploration

Joining a GVI program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunity to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer. Many decide to travel before or after their GVI experience, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program.


Our own long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.


Weekend Trips

Recreational Diving

The dives we conduct on the project have a strict research focus. However there are plenty of opportunities to go for a recreational dive in your free time.


Cap Matoopa Hike

Cap Matoopa is the name of the highest point next to our base, and offers spectacular views of Cap Ternay bay. Trek the jungle encrusted granite climb to the top to be rewarded with a magical Indian Ocean vista like no other.


Beau Vallon Bay

The most popular tourist spot on the main island of the Seychelles, Beau Vallon offers a massive stretch of beach lined with shops and restaurants.


Victoria City

Victoria is only an hour from our base in Baie Ternay Marine National Park. Learn more about the particular blend of cultures that have shaped the Seychelles over the centuries. Visit Hindu temples built adjacent to Catholic cathedrals and sample dishes with both French and Indian influences.


Water Sports

Other than diving there are many other water sports in the Seychelles, like surfing, kayaking, sailing, snorkeling, and of course simply swimming in the ocean or relaxing on the beach.


Hiking and Climbing

The inner islands of the Seychelles, where you will be staying while on this project, are made of granite which means there are many opportunities for climbing available. Visit Morne Seychellois National Park to hike or climb the highest peak in the Seychelles.


Inner Island Hopping

From the capital of Victoria, you can catch a ferry to many of the other inner islands like Praslin, La Digue, Silhouette, Felicity, and Sister. Praslin is home to the Vallee de Mai National Park, a verdant palm forest thought by early explorers to be the original ‘Garden of Eden’ and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Praslin, and nearby Curieuse, are some of the only Seychellois islands home to the famous Coco de Mer palm whose seed is the largest known on earth. The island is home to the endangered Seychelles Black Parrot as well as many other endemic plants and animals. While in Praslin you could even visit our island and coastal conservation base on nearby Curieuse island. La Digue is the picture perfect tropical island, with several quaint guest houses and arguably the most beautiful beach in the world, Anse Source d’Argent.


Further Travels

Outer Island Visits

The outer coral islands like Desroche, Bird, Dennis, Farquhar, and the Amirantes group, are further away, but well worth the trip. 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.


Madagascar

The only location in the world to spot lemurs in the wild is only three hours away from the Seychelles.


Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of the GVI experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your GVI program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.


Seychelles

The Seychelles is a tropical archipelago off the East Coast of Africa, consisting of 100 islands. Islands located near the center of the group are made of granite and researchers believe that this means they use to form part of the Indian subcontinent. The granite islands attracted corals to their shallower waters and most of the outer islands of the Seychelles are based on coral or sand. The islands are famous for their biodiversity and are home to literally thousands of land and underwater species. The waters of the Indian Ocean are a haven for coral conservation efforts making the Seychelles a sought-after diving destination.


Mahe

GVI’s marine conservation program in the Seychelles is based on the main island of Mahe, the largest granitic island in the Seychelles, surrounded by coral reef, granite drop offs and white sandy beaches. The island rises up to forest-covered mountainous terrain with steep winding roads throughout the island. Turquoise-blue waters house expansive fringing reefs providing habitats to a staggering variety of fish and marine invertebrates. The steep shelf surrounding the islands mean that along with the high diversity of reef fish, oceanic species such as tuna and sailfish are common just offshore. It is home to the capital of the Seychelles, Victoria. Despite being the most populous island in the Seychelles, it is has very few inhabitants compared to most of the urban areas international visitors are use to, and Mahe’s natural habitat is very well-preserved.


Baie Ternay National Marine Park

Our marine research base is located in the secluded Baie Ternay Marine National Park,  a protected coastal reserve, about an hour’s drive from the capital of Victoria and the Seychelles International Airport. The beautiful bay area consists of coastal habitats including mangroves wetlands, seagrass beds, and coral reefs. Among the mangroves you will find species of fish, crab, and birds found exclusively in the Seychelles. Venture further into the water and spy green and hawksbill turtles snacking on seagrass. Deeper in, corals reefs start to span the ocean floor. The dazzling diversity of this underwater garden will surprise you. Here you can also spot emperor angelfish, butterflyfish, octopus, white-tip reef sharks and manta rays. You might even be lucky enough to spot one of the whale sharks who visit the islands for a short time every year.


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  • 2019
  • 2020

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Publications

The best decisions in international development and conservation cannot be made without accurate and up-to-date data or informed research. Our many field teams around the world collaborate with local and international partners to analyse data and draw conclusions. In addition, many of our participants have used research they have collected on their various GVI projects to complete their Masters, Doctorate, or postdoctoral studies. We also run a fellowship program which connects postdoctoral researchers at globally-respected universities with our many sustainable development programs around the world to support their research and ensure continuous improvement of our best practices on base.


Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Herritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

Arrivals

When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.


As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.