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  • Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles

Communing with Nature on Cousin Island

On a sparkling blue day in March the representatives of the biology, art, travel and tourism and English departments of the school joined the hard working Eco Club members on a special trip to Cousin Island. They all departed from the Marine Charter on the catamaran Catalina. The two-hour voyage across the flat seas passed Les Mamelles and Cousine en route and ended with us anchoring off the beautiful conservation island of Cousin. Some of the passengers spotted turtles and shoals of large friendly batfish while we waited to be transferred by the island tenders on to the granitic island of Cousin, a rat free paradise of unique ecological importance and the most important breeding site for Hawksbill turtles in the Indian Ocean.
The fast beach landing was a first time experience for many students and staff. After dividing into groups of relevant study areas, the tours circumnavigated the island wandering in awe of the high lizard density, the giant Wrights skinks and rare bronze geckoes. Brown Noddies mating season had just begun and nests were rare as were the other Lesser Noddies. However tropic birds and their chicks were to be found at the base of most trees and fairy terns in various stages of development perched precariously on branches. Students encountered the critically endangered Seychelles Brush warbler and Seychelles Magpie Robin and took some good photos.
The students were amazed and very enthusiastic much to the rangers delight. The wild tortoises roaming the forest interacted as if they were hosting the visitors in a friendly manner. The islands resident swarms of mosquitoes were a constant annoyance and the sweltering temperatures sapped the energy of the exploring students who were glad to return to the breeze and shade of the beach crest to eat their lunch. They compared notes of what they had encountered.
As a thank you to Nature Seychelles and Cousin island students picked up litter from the beach before departing for the return voyage. The intrepid students relaxed on the forward deck nets on the return trip. The final excitement was, as we approached St Anne Island, one of the two trailing rods bent double as we struck a large bonito. It lived to fight another day as it jumped the hook before being landed. We arrived at the jetty slightly late but contented. The students now have much inspiration for their upcoming exams and planned projects. Many thanks to Masons Travel and Cousin Island staff for making us feel so welcome. Maybe the trip will inspire our ISS students to work in conservation.



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