Tuesday, 15 December 2015

GIF monitors the reefs around Denis and North Island

Coral reef around North Island
In November and December 2015 GIF staff surveyed the marine environment  around the islands of Denis and North. As part of our commitment to properly manage the reefs which are so ecologically important, GIF wants to understand the value and the dynamics of the areas surrounding the islands. This involves monitoring of coral reefs and seagrass beds for fish, coral and algae distribution and megafauna.

Coral reef monitoring
Number and species of fish were documented through fish point counts at several stationary points and benthic habitat cover was assessed using the Point Intercept Transect (PIT). Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVS) were deployed to investigate the presence of predators. Specific to Denis Island, the extensive seagrass beds were surveyed for megafauna such as turtles, sharks and rays through snorkelling and kayaking.

Seagrass surveys around Denis Island

The two weeks of intense field work went quite well despite choppy sea conditions around North Island. Interestingly, North Island experienced an algal bloom episode while we were surveying. We took this opportunity to gather as much data as possible about this phenomenon which has been affecting several islands of the Seychelles over the last two months. We managed to BRUV several areas where the bloom actually hit hours before and we found these areas completely devoid of any life!! To see what happens after such an event, we resurveyed these same areas a few days later. We are very interested to see whether the fish had returned by then!

Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems
 These marine surveys are ideally carried out at least twice a year to identify the presence and distribution of key species and monitor changes in these marine habitats, which are important for Seychelles. Gathering data for Denis and North Island's marine ecosystems will not only help to better understand fish and coral communities but also supports potential proclamation of marine protected areas around the islands. These surveys are therefore a continuation of the GEF-UNDP-GOS funded 'Protected Area' project which you have read about on this blog before.

Marble Ray and Hawksbill turtle spotted around North Island 

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