From Ireland to Seychelles: Volunteering as a Reef Rescuer

When I was told by an old employer that I should check out this coral reef restoration project in Seychelles it sounded like the perfect opportunity. I had just finished my degree in Marine Science and I was desperate to do something outside of my home country of Ireland that would benefit the environment.

Fergal came from Ireland2

I arrived in Seychelles at the start of the year when the weather wasn’t great, so diving was postponed for a couple of weeks. Then the weather improved and diving finally started.

At first, we mostly maintained coral nurseries containing Pocillopora and Acropora, two very different coral species but both very resilient to increasing water temperatures and ocean acidification leading to coral bleaching. This is critical because, with global warming and more global bleaching events, we need corals that can survive these harsh conditions.

Fixing and repairing nursery

Fixing and repairing nursery (File photo)

Maintaining the nurseries included hammering the anchors in deeper and replacing broken ropes, jerry cans (for floating the nurseries to the right depth) and broken PVC pipes which hold the ropes in place. Each exercise was different and required different skills and knots which we were taught how to do the previous day on land.

Once the nursery was properly maintained and thoroughly cleaned, the fun began by tearing it all apart again! As the weather improved, we did 2 or 3 dives a day. We took the coral off the nursery we had just fixed, and then outplanted it into the beautiful Athinopora site (link). On our first trip there it was immediately apparent where the last volunteers and staff had already outplanted. There were fish and coral everywhere and the colours were beautiful.

outplanting with a bag

Outplanting seemed straightforward, cementing coral to rock, but it was challenging every day. Some days the current or the surge was strong and staying in the same place was a challenge while outplanting. Some days as soon as the coral was planted a triggerfish or wrasses would come and peck at the coral and push it off the cement. But it was impossible to get angry with them.

fergal for rte new


Fergal was interviewed for RTE News during his time on the project! See "Seychelles: The disappearing islands"Seychelles: The disappearing islands"

One day the cement was too hard and ripped my bag as I squeezed. However, when I went to show Luca (the underwater boss) I saw my first ever manta ray over his shoulder, which was spectacular and it even came back around to play with our bubbles. By the end of the 3 months, we really got the hang of it and these problems were much easier to deal with. Between us in the 3 months, we planted over 1000 corals which is something I will always be proud of.
As for the rest of the time there with weekends off it gave us plenty of time to do touristy things too like visiting the beaches on Praslin or some of the surrounding islands. We even got to spend the weekend on Cousin Island which was worth the trip in itself.

I think it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but if I got the chance to do it again, I would."


Nature Seychelles coral reef restoration project is currently in its third phase and is funded by the UNDPthrough the UNDP and the Seychelles government.

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Since 1998.

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

@CousinIsland Manager


Roche Caiman, Mahe


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