"Chain, check. Duct tape, check. Cable ties, check. Cutting board, check..." Stop, there's no need for you to call the authorities. Although the above list looks a tiny bit suspicious, it is merely Tove's - our fish researcher - shopping list.
Tove, whom we've nicknamed "the fish whisperer" because she puts fish to sleep before she tags them, is about to start work on fish spawning aggregations research around Cousin Island Special Reserve. The items on the list are for legitimate use in this research.
The chain will measure the three dimensional structures of the coral reefs, the cable ties are water proof, will never rust and will last a long time and will therefore be used to attach water temperature probes underwater and to tie PVC tubes together. The cutting board is a makeshift underwater writing slate; you can buy expensive underwater diving slates, but Tove is choosing to improvise. The spider man children pens look a little bit like an indulgence, even though she promises us that she needs them to write underwater and that they go hand in hand with her cutting board cum diving slate.
"The duct tape is for everything, what haven't I used it for?" she asks, not really expecting an answer. "I have fixed my snorkels with it, repaired flip flops and fishing gear, and have used it as a bandage in some extreme cases. I like having it," she adds. Tove would have put her GPS in a lunch box to waterproof it but she'd already been given a "proper" water proof case.
As you can tell, Tove is a miss-fix-it and she has 'a what can we make do with?' attitude. This is a good approach to have and it can come in very handy, especially in places where things aren't easily found like in Seychelles. She was lucky to find all these items readily available in our local shops, but this is not often the case.
Preparing for a project in Seychelles can be a big challenge. More often than not specialised, and sometimes not so specialised, items have to be ordered abroad and delivered here. They either get here on time depending on the supplier or they don't. And there's the importation process to navigate as well.
The acoustic tags Tove will need to "spy" on the fish are a good example. "You buy them from Canada. It's the one company in the world that supplies them," she says. Add to that are the tracking devices and stationary receivers, and the conventional tags from a different company, that will also have to be purchased. One needs to be well prepared for this if a project is to take off.
Nature Seychelles is carrying out on an important one. Under a GEF/UNDP/Government of Seychelles financed project, we will look at the design and functioning of the Cousin Island Marine Protected Area and its role in the protection of fish that sustain local communities. Fish spawning areas around Cousin, fish movement between the protected area and fished areas, and the connections between the MPA and nearby fish spawning aggregations are under study.