Dr. Nirmal Jivan Shah - Chief Executive
Nirmal is a well-known figure in the Seychelles conservation scene having an encyclopedic knowledge of Seychelles biodiversity as well as a wealth of experience in environment management. He was formerly the Assistant Director of Fisheries Research, the Director of the Seychelles Conservation and National Parks service as well as the Managing Director of an environmental firm, ENVIRO where he worked on projects covering almost every aspect of environmental management. He was the coordinator of the Seychelles National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan process and of the Environmental Management Plan of Seychelles 2000-2010. He has worked for international organizations such as the World Bank, IUCN, UNEP, Sida and UNESCO.
Kerstin Henri - Projects Coordinator
Kerstin was previously the country’s Environmental Management Plan (EMPS) Coordinator at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She is a professional resource economist who has coordinated the implementation of some of the major environmental projects in the Seychelles including those funded by the GEF and the World Bank.
Dr. Sarah Frias-Torres, Research Associate, Reef Rescuers Project
Dr. Sarah Frias-Torres is a broadly trained, fieldwork oriented marine ecologist and biological oceanographer. Her research interests include: (1) Effects of global climate change in tropical marine ecosystems, (2) Coral reef and mangrove ecosystem resilience, (3) Behavioral ecology and conservation biology of marine megafauna, (4) Life histories, reproduction and parental care in fishes, (5) Marine biodiversity and, (6) Development of novel low cost high-tech ocean sensors. Dr. Frias-Torres is committed in making her research available to the general public through science outreach, such us writing magazine or newspaper articles and documentary filmmaking. She is currently the Coordinator of the Reef Rescuers Program at Nature Seychelles.
Dr Phanor Montoya-Maya - Research Associate, Reef Rescuers Project.
Dr. Phanor H MONTOYA-MAYA is a marine biologist specialized in coral reef ecology and reef connectivity. He has a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Kwazulu-Natal South Africa, a M.Sc. in Ichthyology from Rhodes University South Africa, and a B.Sc. in Marine Biology from the Jorge Tadeo Lozano University in Colombia. Phanor volunteered as scientific diver at the USAID/UNDP-GEF- funded coral reef restoration project in Cousin Island, Seychelles (Reef Rescuers) for 6 months, and in October 2014 he was appointed as the new Reef Rescuers Scientific & Technical Officer. Prior to this work, Phanor worked as a research assistant at the Oceanographic Research Institute in Durban, South Africa and as coral specialist for the National Geographic Pristine Seas expedition to southern Mozambique. He has knowledge on marine invertebrate biology, coral reef surveys, coral reproduction and recruitment, multivariate analysis, ecological genetics, conservation outreach, and citizen science. He is also a scuba diving instructor and a commercial diver
Jedida Oneko - Communications Manager
Jedida joined the team in June 2014 as Communications Manager. She has worked as a Communications Specialist for several non governmental organizations in Kenya and as a freelance journalist for German, Kenyan and UK publications and radio stations. Her expertise includes web content and social media management, article writing and editing, media and public relations, photography and media training. Jedida is trained in journalism and development studies. Her interest in environmental conservation issues drew her to work with Nature Seychelles.
Eric Blais - Cousin Island Special Reserve Coordinator
Eric has previously worked as the conservation officer for Cousin Island Special Reserve and has returned as coordinator for the reserve. A native of Rodrigues, Eric also worked on the Shoals Rodrigues project and has a wide range of skills in marine conservation, fisheries, sustainability and MPAs.
Jovani Raffin - Chief Warden, Cousin Island Special Reserve
Jovani joined Nature Seychelles in 2017 as the Chief Warden. Jovani is originally from Rodrigues Island, with a marine training background and over 17 years of experience in marine conservation leading several projects within different NGOs in the Western Indian Ocean region namely with “shoals Rodrigues”, reef conservation, MMCS and as consultant with the Indian Ocean Commission on the successful Octopus fishery closure in Mauritius. Jovani is also a qualified scientific, commercial diver and PADI diving Instructor.
Austin Laing-Herbert - Projects Operations Co-ordinator, Reef Rescuers Project
Austin is a marine biologist specialised in tropical marine ecology and conservation with a B.Sc. in Zoology from the University of Massey, New Zealand, and a M.Sc. in Marine Biology and Ecology from James Cook University, Australia. Austin is also a commercial diver with ADAS accreditation. He became a trainee of Nature Seychelles’ only Reef Rescuers Training Program in 2015 and later continued with the Reef Rescuers as a scientific diver while volunteering on Cousin Island Special Reserve. Austin is now part of the team as the Reef Rescuers Project Operations Co-ordinator. He also has broad knowledge on coral & fish group identification & marine conservation biology.
Cheryl Sanchez - Island Conservation Officer, Cousin Island Special Reserve
Cheryl worked as an aquarist for several years and has been involved in animal welfare and animal husbandry from a young age. She completed her M.Sc. in Florida focusing on juvenile green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) aggregations along the eastern coast of Florida. Cheryl worked for several years as a Research Assistant on one of the most important sea turtle nesting beaches in the United States for green sea turtles and one of the most important nesting beaches in the world for loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta). She has been involved in various in-water conservation and research projects. She went on to work for conservation projects in Cape Verde, involving sea turtle and bird conservation. Cheryl then moved to Curieuse Island, Seychelles, where she worked on various projects ranging from research on Coco de Mer (Lodoicea maldivica) growth to exploring the relationship between lemon sharks and mangrove habitat.
Louise Malaise - Technical & Scientific Officer, Reef Rescuers Project
Louise Malaise is a marine biologist specialized in the conservation and management of tropical marine ecosystems. She has an M.Sc. in Marine Sciences from James Cook University, Australia and a B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Pierre & Marie Curie, Paris. Louise was involved in a number of conservation projects around the Western Indian Ocean, including a dolphin conservation program and two marine debris management programs in Mauritius. She has also experience in aquaculture from Mayotte Island. Louise first entered the Reef Rescuers Project as a trainee and a scientific diver in 2015. In January 2016, she was appointed as the new Reef Rescuers Technical & Scientific Officer. She has broad knowledge on coral reef ecosystem dynamics and reef resilience assessment, coral & fish identification and survey, coastal management and ecotourism.
Yan Coquet - Program Coordinator, Conservation Boot Camp
Yan joined the team as program coordinator launching the new Conservation Boot Camp on Cousin Island. With a scientific background and 2 years working as a volunteer coordinator for a Marine Conservation NGO in Mauritius. After studies done in industrial maintenance field, he heard the call of natural sciences, a u-turn that expressed his long time connection with nature. He completed a BSc. in Environmental and Earth Science and then an MSc. in Marine Geosciences at Perpignan University, France. There, he also spent a few years volunteering in the University student association for social and environmental concerns. Back in Mauritius, Yan joined the Lagon Bleu Project team as Lagoon Monitoring Program Manager and Volunteer coordinator where he also contributed to the creation of new awareness projects. He was also member of the Mauritius ICZM sub-committee for coral protection.
Blaine Allison - Green Yoga & Fitness Instructor, Green Health Program
Blaine believes that moving our bodies should be of vital importance in daily life. Movement is less about fitness for Blaine and more about connecting with his body and finding out what his body is capable of. Blaine has always been active and while growing up was involved in numerous sports at high levels. However, when he decide that he did not want to pursue sports professionally he began to practice and research other ways of moving. Martial arts was first on this movement journey. Having been inspired byBruce Lee he started training and did so for the following 8 years. After spending 4 years in the Canadian Forces where he did not get much time to practice martial arts he began researching and experimenting once again. He started to look at fitness from a less rigid perspective and more as a holistic discipline. Now having been teaching Yoga and movement for a little over 5 years, he wants to share this passion of movement with others and not only help them achieve physical goals but inspire them to look at movement as a balanced and holistic endeavor.