Live on the Coral Reef

"When you're diving for work, there is one giant perk ... It's a Moray!" Nature Seychelles' Reef Rescuer, Roshni Yathiraj, was so enthralled by her encounter last week with a Moray eel that she waxed lyrical about it. We don't blame her; seeing moray eels is a highlight of any diving trip in Seychelles.

Seeing moray eels is a highlight of any diving trip Photo Roshni Yathiraj

Seeing moray eels is a highlight of any diving trip (Photo - Roshni Yathiraj)

She snapped a picture of the fish, which has a slithering snake-like appearance, seemingly smiling at her. It looked like it had come out of its rocky dwelling just to say hello.

One of the perks of working on the coral reef restoration project on Cousin Island Special Reserve is the discovery and sharing of these interesting finds. Even though climate change has damaged these reefs, they are still alive with marine life. They are home to numerous species that feed on corals, graze on algae growing on coral surfaces, or filter feed on microscopic plants, animals, and organic matter.

It is not uncommon to see different species of fish swimming around corals or close to caves, ledges, or channels or catch sight of sharks or rays passing noiselessly by, or sea turtles foraging or resting on the reef.

The marine protected area of Cousin Island

The marine protected area of Cousin Island offers a glimpse of underwater life in Seychelles (Photo - Athina Antoine)

Roshni regularly shares her fascination with spotting fish, which she calls "fish stalking" on social media.

"I always find it intriguing how perfectly these fish fit themselves into coral crevices," she writes of a Damsel fish wedged into Pocillopora coral. "How beautifully they navigate within these tiny spaces, around rough surfaces and past hard corners to move through the branches, without hurting themselves or the coral. A damsel in no distress!"

Each day brings new wonders for her.

"Peek-a-blue, I see you! I might be a little obsessed with the colours on this Chromis viridis," she says of the Green puller, which has shades of blue on its body. A Yellow Spotted Scorpionfish hiding deep within the branches of a Pocillopora coral found during a reef monitoring survey she describes as, a "Beady-eyed, shy, shadow dweller by day; fierce and voracious ambush predator by night."

Fish like the Scribbled filefish and batfish also visit the coral nursery Photo Luca Saponari

Fish like the Scribbled filefish and batfish also visit the coral nursery (Photo - Luca Saponari)

Fish like the Scribbled filefish and Batfish also visit the coral nursery and have become the reef rescuers new buddies. For a couple of months, a seahorse also frequented the nursery, with its tail wrapped around the vertical rope.

Molluscs and crustaceans are plentiful in addition to fish. Molluscs include octopuses, squids, clams, oysters, snails, nudibranchs, and crustaceans include lobsters, crabs, shrimps, krill, barnacles, and copepods.

Lize Fourie, another Reef Rescuer, says octopuses often camouflage by mimicking their surroundings, even trying to look like corals the team has outplanted.

Equally fascinating was a female trapezia crab carrying her fertilized eggs that another Reef Rescuer, Athina Antoine, discovered. As part of a symbiotic relationship with Pocillopora corals, these crabs feed off coral tissue and mucus as well as defend the corals from predators. Did you know that there is a group of marine worms called Christmas worms because of their appearance and colours? Yes, there is. Athina has pictures of them!

Sadly, coral reefs face unprecedented threats due to climate change, pollution, overfishing, and other human activities, despite being among the most diverse and important ecosystems on earth, providing habitat for marine life, protecting coastlines from storms, and even providing food and medicine. It is up to us to ensure that this variety of life continues to thrive.

Our History

Since 1998.

Seychelles Nature, Green HealthClimate Change, Biodiversity Conservation & Sustainability Organisation

@CousinIsland Manager


Roche Caiman, Mahe


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Centre for Environment & Education

Roche Caiman,

P.O. Box 1310, Mahe, Seychelles

Tel:+ 248 2519090