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First Seychelles sea turtle festival launched |10 August 2013

Raising more awareness on sea turtle protection and its importance to nature is the aim of the first Seychelles sea turtle festival which was officially launched yesterday at the National Theatre.
Present at the launch were Tourism and Culture Minister Alain St Ange, principal secretary for environment and energy Wills Agricole, director general for schools Odile Octave, conservationists, teachers and school children.

The festival is being organised by the Ministry of Environment and Energy in collaboration with the Global Vision International and the Marine Conservation Society of Seychelles.

The highlights of yesterday’s ceremony were presentations on turtles and turtle conservation by Chris Boyes from the Save Our Seas D’arros Research Centre, Gilberte Gendron of the Seychelles National Parks Authority as well as the famous sea turtle specialist, Dr Jeanne Mortimer.

The presentations successively enlightened guests present, especially school children, on turtle biology, threats faced by turtles and existing laws to protect them, and the history of conservation in Seychelles.

They for instance learned that from 1,000 eggs laid only one turtle reaches adulthood, and that with their numbers reduced by 80 to 90 percent globally, turtles are in danger of extinction.

Pollution, poaching, climate change which changes the beaches’ structure and man’s interference with the natural habitat such as hotel and wall building were identified as the main dangers faced by turtles. The general conclusion of the presentations were that better protection are needed for turtles and beaches as all related studies have shown that nesting increases by five to seven times in protected areas.

The ceremony also included artistic presentations by students who had taken part in the festival’s art work competitions and the winners were also presented with their prizes. Hachim Charles of La Rosière school won first prize in the primary 1-3 category. In the primary 4-6 category, Neil Commettant of Bel Ombre was the winner for writing while Shakira Pool from La Rosière won for drawing.

 Aleah Rayos of Beau Vallon was the secondary 1-3 winner, while Jean-Luc Bristol excelled among secondary 4-5 students.

Another competition which featured the making of sea turtles from recycled material was won by the School for the Exceptional Child.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, Minister St Ange said the festival is an important event in the protection of Seychelles turtles.

“It is a pleasure to see that such a festival is being organised in Seychelles. The Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Seychelles Tourism Board value the idea that we have to protect our turtles which play an important part in the marketing of Seychelles as well as for the conservation of our marine eco-system. There is nothing more graceful than to see a turtle swimming close to a human being, and this experience should be the dream of every young Seychellois. The Seychelles sea turtle festival protects a species which is most dear to us,” he said.

As the organisers wish to turn the Seychelles sea turtle festival into an annual event, Mr St Ange has proposed that it be integrated into the Subios underwater festival in order to work in harmony and achieve the same objectives.

The festival continues today with a film show at 10.30am at the Deepam Cinema and the main activity is a family fun day starting at 12 noon at the Beau Vallon Regatta site.

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