When a hotel saves marine life

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When a hotel saves marine life
When a hotel saves marine life

Africa-Press – Seychelles. ● Raffles hotel staff work with Nature Seychelles to restore coral reefs

To mark its 13th anniversary on February 8, 2024, staff from Raffles Praslin successfully deployed 13 coral “spiders” in one single day in the ocean as part of the resort’s coral reef restoration project. The spiders are artificial reef structures made of iron rebar with coral fragments attached.

With training and technical and logistical support from Nature Seychelles, Raffles has embarked on a truly amazing restoration project in Anse Takamaka bay in front of the hotel.

Raffles sought Nature Seychelles’ expertise to develop their project in 2021. Under an agreement signed with Nature Seychelles, the NGO’s famous Reef Rescuers team based at the Centre for Ocean Restoration and Learning (CORAL) on Praslin have since worked with seventeen of the hotel’s staff. They have provided training and supervision on the stocking and deployment of the frames funded by the hotel.

Additionally, the training covered coral ecology, coral and fish identification, coral collection and fragmentation, nursery-based coral cultivation, and monitoring. It was provided under the framework of the Nature Seychelles’ coral reef restoration project funded by the Adaptation Fund through UNDP and the Government of Seychelles. This project encourages stakeholders’ training and collaboration.

Since 2021, 196 frames with over 4,000 corals of five different coral genera have been strategically placed in the bay right in front of the resort. This is truly an outstanding achievement. The planted corals are flourishing and remarkably, the last monitoring session revealed an impressive 96 percent survival rate. This marks a very promising development in the ongoing restoration project.

The resort’s staff, both local and expatriates from diverse backgrounds, participated enthusiastically. For the most part, coral reef restoration was a new field of training. They found the training and hands-on activities enlightening and said it heightened their awareness of coral ecosystems. Some had prior underwater experience as divers, snorkellers, and water sports instructors and said the training enhanced their enjoyment of recreational activities in the water.

Dr Luca Saponari, the Reef Rescuers team leader, expressed satisfaction with the active involvement of these non-technical personnel in environmental conservation efforts.

“As coral restorers and marine biologists, our work is crucial, but it is strengthened and made more effective through collaboration with institutions and individuals from different backgrounds. Together, we lay the foundation for positive and visible change. The staff’s newfound knowledge and skills have made them more conscious of the underwater world, fostering a deep interest in coral reef protection,” he said.

“I am immensely proud of our team’s dedicated efforts in contributing to the coral reef restoration project,” said Salwa Razzouk, general manager of Raffles Seychelles.

“The deployment of 196 coral ‘spiders’ showcases our commitment to environmental sustainability and the thriving marine ecosystem in Anse Takamaka. Through collaboration with Nature Seychelles and the Reef Rescuers team, we have not only achieved remarkable success in the survival and growth of planted corals, but have also fostered a deeper awareness of coral ecosystems among our diverse staff and guests. This initiative aligns with our vision for positive and visible change, and we are honoured to be a part of Nature Seychelles’ impactful collaborations with hotels for coral reef restoration.”

Nature Seychelles is a leader in collaborating with hotels for coral reef restoration. Notably, a joint restoration project with Constance Lemuria at Anse Kerlan funded by the Global Environment Facility led to the publication of a scientific paper on an innovative low-tech method the NGO developed for monitoring coral transplant survival and growth. It also partnered with Six Senses on Felicite Island for a two-year coral restoration project funded by the Indian Ocean Commission.

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