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DREAMing Big: |26 January 2024

DREAMing Big:

Daniel Hugelmann from OceanLabs Seychelles (L) and Dr Nirmal Shah from Nature Seychelles

Seychelles pioneers conservation technology through innovative partnership


Nature Seychelles has joined forces with two local companies – OceanLabs Seychelles and Kingsgate Electronics – to pioneer locally-made, cutting-edge conservation technology.

As a result of this revolutionary collaboration, two devices have been co-designed and co-produced entirely in Seychelles, named NEST (Nest Electronic Surveillance of Turtles) and DREAM (Diver Reef Evaluation Assisted Monitoring), as well as the installation of an innovative microwave internet carrier for fast and efficient transfer of large packets of data, including videos from Cousin Island Special Reserve.

“This is a significant milestone, since it is the first time technology has been locally engineered in Seychelles for conservation,” said Dr Nirmal Shah, chief executive of Nature Seychelles. “I saw a gap in our conversation toolkit and met up with a brilliant young Seychellois, Daniel Hugelmann of OceanLabs, to discuss custom-made devices tailored to our needs. These devices represent a new avenue for conservation entities and technology companies to collaborate to solve conservation challenges.”

“Our collaboration with Nature Seychelles has yielded remarkable results. By combining cutting-edge technology with state-of-the-art techniques such as 3D printing, we have created tailor-made devices that meet the unique needs of Nature Seychelles' users and their specific environments,” Mr Hugelmann said. “Our iterative process of joint discussions, engineering work, prototyping, and fieldwork is a testament to our commitment to producing reliable real-world solutions. Through collaboration and hard work, we can achieve extraordinary results that benefit us all, right here in Seychelles.”

The devices are part of Nature Seychelles’ Smart Island System initiative, which aims to enhance monitoring of terrestrial and marine activities on Cousin Island. Nature Seychelles received financial backing from tech giant Huawei and the International Union for Nature Conservation's Tech4Natureproject, a global partnership to scale up success in nature conservation through digital technology innovation.

Both NEST and DREAM have been rigorously tested in the field over the past few months, showing their effectiveness in real-world conservation scenarios.

DREAM, a fully automated sensor platform, monitors sea water parameters. Currently deployed by the Reef Rescuers in the coral reef restoration project on Cousin and Praslin Islands, DREAM autonomously collects data during dives while attached to a diver's air tank. The collected data, including pH, light, and dissolved oxygen levels, enhances the understanding of water quality at project sites and helps to identify threats such as algal overgrowth. The data is automatically uploaded post-dive and can be accessed through a user-friendly web interface.

The data provided is very valuable in view of the current bleaching alert for the Western Indian Ocean.

Similarly, NEST is being used during the 2023-24 Hawksbill turtle nesting season. The device automatically monitors and transmits turtle nest environmental data, including temperature, humidity, and oxygen. All three factors impact the incubation length, hatchling sex, embryo survival, and other physical characteristics of sea turtles. It detects movement inside the nest, which could indicate a disturbance or a hatching event.

Another Smart Island System funded innovation is a 5GHz microwave link and wireless network installed by Kingsgate Electronics connecting the Nature Seychelles CORAL building on Praslin and Cousin. It provides a robust and high bandwidth internet connection to bolster current and future conservation efforts. These include uploading data from the NEST device as well as a future project for live video streaming from wildlife cameras at strategic locations in the Special Reserve.

The collaborative partnership between these 3 organisations illustrates the power of local innovation in advancing conservation and paves the way for future initiatives.




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