Competition offers young Seychellois the chance of a D’Arros experience |07 September 2021
Young people from across Seychelles are being offered an opportunity to visit one of the most remarkable environments in their country’s Outer Islands.
The Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) has launched a competition open to all Seychelles residents between the ages of 11 and 14 for a one-week environmental education camp on D’Arros Island. Sixteen winners will be selected for participation in the programme.
The ‘D’Arros Experience’, initiated by the SOSF and its D’Arros Research Centre (SOSF-DRC), aims to engage young Seychellois on the importance of the ecosystems that form part of their national heritage, while providing practical, hands-on field experience in a globally important ecological hotspot.
“The competition winners will experience a varied research and education programme involving terrestrial surveys and expeditions to mangroves and sea-grass beds,” explains Sheena Talma, a Seychellois scientist serving as the camp coordinator for the ‘D’Arros Experience’.
“The idea is to provide the students with a clear understanding of how all ecosystems, from the coast to the deeper ocean are connected. D’Arros island is the perfect place to demonstrate that.’
Talma, who has been involved in numerous local and international research programmes, is working with SOSF Ambassador Terence Vel from the University of Seychelles to organise the ‘D’Arros Experience’ in collaboration with the SOSF-DRC management team.
This year has involved the added challenge of ensuring that the competition and all activities relating to the camp follow health protocols in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are collaborating with the ministries for health and education to proceed in a way that is safe for everyone involved,” says Talma.
“The actual timing of the camp will not only depend on the Covid-19 situation, but will also coincide with school holidays. And we will take into account the season and favourable wind patterns which are essential to operating safely in the Outer Islands.”
Reviving the ‘D’Arros Experience’, which was last run in 2014, is an important component of the SOSF’s worldwide mission to promote environmental education and outreach.
“We are passionate about inspiring the next generation of ocean stewards to ensure that the future of our blue planet is protected,” says SOSF founder, His Excellency Abdulmohsen Abdulmalik Al-Sheikh.
“We are delighted to offer the ‘D’Arros Experience’ so that students can learn at firsthand about the wonders of our seas. It is humbling to see previous attendees going on to carve out careers in marine conservation in Seychelles.”
The competition winners will be judged on their submissions of an original story or poster that describes the powers that a super-hero of their own invention would need to solve some of the world’s biggest environmental challenges, such as climate change or marine pollution.
Although ‘environmental super-heroes’ is the theme of the competition, participants will not need to look far for real-life inspiration.
Stana Mousbe, currently a research trainee with the SOSF-DRC team, was among those chosen for the ‘D’Arros Experience’ in 2014. According to Mousbe, she is living proof that the camp can inspire Seychelles’ next generation of conservationists and scientists.
“I participated in the competition without any idea that the experience that came after would propel me into my current career field,” she says. ‘The ‘D’Arros Experience’ allow kids to see a fragment of their country and why it is said to be a paradise. It instilled in me a passion for marine biology and conservation that has only grown stronger.”
The SOSF hopes to attract participation in the ‘D’Arros Experience’ competition from schools throughout the islands. Educators who are interested in promoting the competition for student participation are encouraged to visit https://saveourseas.com/sosf-darrosresearch-
centre/darrosexperience2021/ for more information and to download thecompetition guidelines.
About the D’arros Research Centre
The waters surrounding D’Arros Island and St Joseph Atoll have been an important sanctuary for marine life for decades and in March 2020 they were declared marine protected areas as part of Seychelles’ larger Marine Spatial Plan Initiative. D’Arros Island has been declared as its own Zone 1 (no extractive use), with St Joseph Atoll part of a larger Zone 2 (conditional use).
The Save Our Seas Foundation’s D’Arros Research Centre (SOSF-DRC) has been active since 2012 and has hosted researchers from around the world. So far, more than 20 targeted research projects have been conducted at D’Arros and St Joseph in collaboration with numerous international institutions. The centre also supports six long-term projects, including one of Seychelles’ longest-running turtle-monitoring projects.
About the Save Our Seas Foundation
Founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2003, the Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) is a philanthropic organisation whose ultimate goal is to create a legacy of securing the health and sustainability of our oceans, and the communities that depend on them, for generations to come.
Its support for research, conservation and education projects worldwide focuses on endangered sharks, rays and skates. Three permanent SOSF research and education centres reinforce its actions in Seychelles, South Africa and the USA.
Contributed by the Save Our Seas Foundation