Seychelles hosted its first International Schools debates in July 2018 and the theme for this year was “Oceans”. The week-long program was organized by The Seychelles Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development in Partnership with the Trust for Sustainable Living (TSL), based in the UK, with the support of various local partners.

 

SNPA staff and the International Visitors at Port Launay

The International Schools Essay competition and debate has been running for five years, with over 1,000 children and 200 teachers participating each year, from more than 70 countries. The organizers knew that an Ocean Conference here in the Seychelles will not be complete without the children and their guardians visiting the Marine National Parks (MNPs). While many of the students signed up for a boat trip to  the oldest protected area in the country, Ste Anne Marine National Park, another group of more adventurous  participants opted for a field trip to two other marine protected areas in the north west of  Mahé Island, namely Port Launay and Baie Ternay MNPs.

The children from Serbia, India, Dubai, Lebanon and the UK were welcomed to Port Launay MNP by the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) staffs, who presented each one of them with a complementary brochure of the two MNPs and gave them an overview of SNPA’s works and conservation activities. The  children had plenty of questions and were fascinated by the fauna they encountered along the shores; they spent quite sometimes observing limpets, crabs and shorebirds.

Leaving busy Port Launay MNP behind, with all the tourists, peaceful Baie Ternay MNP was next. It was mid-tide when we arrived, and as we expected the MNP was very quiet. Once everyone had been equipped with coral shoes, the aim was to wade towards “Gran Pyes”, (one of the few places in the Park, which in the past contained human settlement), with the guarantee of seeing interesting fauna in the water, as indicated by the shoals of fish. In no time, the girls from the UK had spotted a large ray. Having an eye for rays they spotted many more along the way. Further down on the rocky shore there were rock pools in which a perfect micro habitat had formed and living there was numerous mudskippers. Many of the adults commented on the beautiful rock formations in the area which added to the charm of the secluded park.

The last item of the day was snorkelling, and it was time to jump into the ocean and explore and appreciate the rich marine life of this national park. Fish were everywhere and in abundance; batfish, parrotfish, butterfly fish, wrasses, damsels and angelfish. One girl from the group had a fun time, proudly showing others the beautiful red and white starfish that she had discovered resting on a massive coral. The SNPA team was very pleased with the “thumbs up” and enthusiasm shown by the children, and the Authority feels honored to have contributed to Seychelles first International Children’s Ocean conference.

 

Snorkeling in Baie Ternay Marine Park

 

Beach safari on Port Launay beach