Week three on Curieuse has come and gone and it’s crazy to think there are another five to come! This week was an eventful week starting off with Carolyn’s 22nd birthday on Monday! After a day full of surveys we celebrated with peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for everyone and a giant cookie and a candle for the birthday girl.
Throughout the week we also did multiple surveys on the mangroves, in which we test the soil at certain points for the temperature and salinity to see how it affects the mangrove plants!
We also worked with the tortoises on the island during a tortoise census in which we identify a tortoise, then take various measurements to keep track and monitor the island’s population. Because Curieuse is one of the few places on the planet where giant tortoises live not in captivity, monitoring and documenting how they’re doing is crucial!
On Thursday we were all taken over to Praslin to visit one of the Seychelles’ World Heritage Sites, The Valley De Mai! It contains many endemic species in the Seychelles like the Coco de Mer and the black parrot! After hiking for a couple hours we all packed on to a local bus, as crazy as they are, and made it back to the beach to get back to Curieuse. It was amazing to see and the sites were great!
Friday night was barbecue night and after preparing fries and salad the staff grilled up freshly caught barracuda for everyone!
After some cards, ping pong, and other festivities we ended the week and now have a couple days to prepare for our last week with all of the one month volunteers!
After a busy first few weeks we had the chance to travel around on one of the main islands, Praslin, for the weekend, to explore the Seychelles even further. After getting dropped of by the project staff early Friday morning we all went out to breakfast at a resort called Paradise Sun, which is a pretty exclusive resort but offers its breakfast for not too much money. After eating more than we should’ve and enjoying the endless choices of food we had the chance to relax by the pool for a bit, use their WiFi, and prepare for the weekend.
After a relaxing morning the other volunteers left to travel around a neighboring Island, La Digue, while we stayed on Praslin for the weekend. After checking into our guest house on the beach, which we were given an awesome deal because we work on Curieuse, we were invited by staff at Paradise Sun to see a local band and dancers that perform for hotel guests but because we were with Gvi and they appreciate what the organization does here in the Seychelles we were invited to come. The celebration was great, with the local band playing while dancers danced by a huge fire. Everyone was invited to join in so we got to have some fun dancing with some of the locals! It was a great experience that we wont forget!
The next day we decided to take the local bus and visit Anse Lazio, a well known beach on Praslin, and Mt Zimbabwe, which has a great view of Curieuse Island. The local buses are crazy with winding roads and barely any space between oncoming traffic but luckily we made it. The beach looked amazing and after a long hike up the steepest roads we’ve ever seen we made it to the top of the mountain and saw the whole Island of Curieuse!
Now we are back at Paradise Sun on our last day off awaiting to be picked up and taken back to Curieuse for another busy week!
With our 2nd week in the Seychelles coming to an end there is a lot that we have learned and even more that is to come. This week when surveying the island we spent a lot of time on the island’s population of lemon sharks! The mangroves on the island provide the perfect environment for lemon shark pups because of the protection of offers from predators like larger sharks. We spend time attempting to catch sharks using a simple bait and hook to gill nets to catch, record, tag and release the sharks to help gain information to better understand the lemon sharks on Curieuse. Also walking around in the mangroves with stingrays, crabs, and shark pups is really cool to see!
Here is a net outside of the mangroves during the shark surveys.
This week we also spent a day becoming certified emergency first responders! After long videos, training, and a test of course.
Ronnie pretending to be dead..
Now we are finishing off the week with a weekend on Praslin, getting to explore more of the Seychelles and everything there is to see! So with the 2nd week coming to an end we are excited for the lessons to come and will try to keep everyone updated as best we can!
The view from the top of Mt. Curieuse! So worth it after the challenging hike!
Carolyn in a Coco De Mer, an endemic species in the Seychelles, during a survey!
Though it seems like we left home a long time ago, only our first busy week in the Seychelles is coming to an end. From the minute we landed on Mahe exactly a week ago it’s been a nonstop learning experience. Not only learning the countless studies and surveys taking place on Curieuse, our Island, but just the day to day life on base and all of the changes we’ve learned to live with. When we landed in the Seychelles last week, after days of traveling, we met with the project’s staff before taking a ferry from Mahe to another Island, Praslin. Once there we met with everyone on the project and took our final boat ride from Praslin to Curieuse. The base which we live on is an old leper colony from the 1800’s that was abanded and is now used by GVI for it’s research base.
The first few days consisted of many presentations and training before Monday, our first survey day. All the meals are made from scratch and everyone on base takes turns cooking, which surprisingly is pretty awesome food. Monday through Friday are work days in which the surveys can consist of bird watches, turtle walks, mangrove surveys, coco de mer census, and lemon shark surveys. In between those there can be other things done but that’s what is currently being studied on the island.
After long days of hiking the island, collecting data, and snorkeling, we usually go to bed shortly after. The team on base this month, a total of 16 people, consists of people from all over the world, which makes for some pretty competitive volleyball games, usually USA vs Europe, and so far it’s all tied up..
Now it’s the weekend and after taking the boat in to Praslin we enjoyed an exquisite breakfast buffet and now have the whole day to recouporate and most importantly, we have WiFi! You never really appreciate a flushing toilet until you spend some time on Curieuse! So far the first week has been full of lessons and adventures and we look forward to the next 7 weeks on Curieuse and all of the journeys ahead. And as always we will do our best to keep everyone updated on all of our trials and tribulations!
Even though we only had a few hours in the airport while waiting for our final flight to the seychelles, there was a lot to see in this airport. Everywhere you look there is something to see, whether it be the melting pot of cultures all waiting for their flights or the crazy bustling crouds even at 1am there are people everywhere! Now we are leaving for our final flight after trying to sleep for an hour or two, which didn’t happen of course. Only a few hours left of traveling!
After getting some well needed rest in Ireland before the last part of our journey to the seychelles, we are at the airport and awaiting our flight. Yesterday we were able to walk around a bit in dublin and were lucky enough to enjoy some sunny weather! After a little exploring and getting something to eat we slept the rest of the day, trying to catch up on sleep and get accustomed to the time change. Now, after an early morning, we are on our way to Abu Dhabi and then finally to the seychelles!
Enjoying a full Irish breakfast before our flight!
Finally we’re on the road and officially starting the trip we began planning almost 6 months ago. Today, after ensuring everything was packed and ready to go, we began the first leg of our trip. Though there are things to be missed, the below zero weather and the snow won’t be one of them. So farewell to everybody and we will do our best to keep everyone updated! After a bus ride to Chicago and all of the fun activities that come with going through the airport we are waiting to board our aer lingus flight in a few minutes! The overnight flight shouldn’t be too bad, sleep is the best way to past the time! So farewell USA officially and we will see you again in a couple months!