Reef Rescuer project begins

diverCoral reef restoration for which Nature Seychelles has recently received financial support from USAID has began with the arrival of a technical manager recruited by the organisation. Dr. Gideon Levy, an Israeli native, arrived in the country last month.

Gideon has been closely involved with coral reef restoration and the development of the "reef gardening" concept, which will be used in the restoration of reefs on appropriate sites that will be prepared and protected on Praslin and Cousin Island Special Reserve. Gardening involves growing corals in underwater farms through collection and nursing of tiny, naturally broken pieces called “nubbins” and when these reach plantable size, transplanting them to appropriate sites.

This challenging work requires extensive work at sea. Gideon is no stranger to the sea.

"My first experience of the sea began when I sailed the pacific ocean for a whole year on a 20 meter motor-sailor yacht called the "Ocean Hunter", later to become a live-aboard in Palau. I stayed to work as a dive guide and second hand on this boat in Palau for another year and a half and acquired a strong bond, interest and passion for the world underwater," says Gideon.

Upon his return to Israel he decided to pursue degrees in the field of marine science. Since then his life has evolved around the sea, working in aquaculture as the biologist of the biggest marine fish farm in Israel, teaching marine science and ecology to pupils and studying biology as part of a Phd program in the field of reef restoration.

Gideon has worked in reef restoration in Israel, Thailand and the Philippines. In fact he  has helped to pioneer some aspects of the “reef gardening” methods that are to be used in Seychelles.

“We needed someone who had both the necessary academic credentials and practical skills in this exciting but very new and difficult field so we could hit the ground running. We don’t have time to lose,” says Kerstin Henri, Nature Seychelles’ Director of Strategic Operations.

As part of the project Gideon will be assisted by a team of volunteers and technical field assistants. “I want to work with locals so we can impart skills and lessons learned,” he says.

Nature Seychelles is preparing for a local stakeholders workshop to be held next week on Praslin Island, which will introduce the project to the Praslin community. It will allow participants to engage, commit and agree on best ways for implementation. The Praslin community will be pioneers in this coral reef restoration effort, which Nature Seychelles hopes to spread in the region.

"The  results of the project will be cascaded widely as a model for the Seychelles and the Region thus providing benchmarks and good practice for  countries similarly affected," says Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles Chief Executive.

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