​Science and Innovation to monitor and preserve the services of the marine ecosystems

 

Vision

To promote, build and foster sustainable use of Seychelles natural marine resources, through implementing resilience-based management with multi-scale impacts both at local and regional levels.


 

Missions

Contributing to the conservation of Seychelles’ natural marine ecosystem and surrounding ocean through targeted innovative primary and applied research projects, monitoring, development of baseline datasets; advocacy, publications, education and awareness

 

Working in partnership with government, NGOs, parastatals and private sector to promote sustainable utilization of Seychelles natural marine resources and increasing sustainable livelihood through empowerment of Seychellois

 

Undertaking environmental and socio-economic research that promotes the acquisition of new knowledge about Seychelles marine environment, its usage and use the research results to improve natural resource management

 

Promoting reproducible and robust standard protocols and promote data sharing and open source access to information.

 

Our Team

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Gilberte Gendron; Msc in Oceanography; Chairman

Gilberte graduated with a Master’s degree in Oceanography from the University of Rimouski in Québec, Canada where her research focused on the impact of anthropogenic noise on the feeding behaviour of fish larvae. She has over 14 years of experience in biodiversity conservation working for the Seychelles government, whereby she has worked both at a technical and decision making levels. She is presently a Senior Research Scientist at the Seychelles National Parks Authority. Her work focuses mainly on coral reefs and associated habitats as well as marine protected area management. Gilberte cofounded SOS in October 2019.

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Dr Nathalie Bodin; PhD in Marine Pollution; Treasurer

Nathalie graduated from the University of Western Brittany with a PhD on the contamination of decapod crustaceans and now has more than 15 years’ experience in applied marine ecology, ecosystems and food web monitoring. She worked at the French Research Institute for Development on small pelagic and large migratory fisheries (billfish, tuna) before joining the Seychelles Fishing Authority where her research focused on the biology, trophodynamics and nutritional value of reef and coastal resources. Nathalie cofounded SOS in October 2019 to take a more active part in the restoration and conservation of the marine habitats and resources of the Seychelles Archipelago.

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Léo Barret; Msc in Oceanography; Secretary

Léo completed a Master’s degree in Oceanography in 2015 in Rimouski, Québec, Canada where he worked  on  the  development  and  behaviour  of  American Lobster.  As  a  project  leader  for  Marine  Conservation  Society Seychelles, he worked on two main projects: 1) the Cerf Island Conservation Program where the goal is to improve the biodiversity around Cerf Island through a participatory partnership with the private sector; 2)  a science-based  project  aimed  at  restoring  commercially  important  spiny  lobster  habitat,  to  help develop  a  sustainable  fishery  in  collaboration  with  the  University  of  Seychelles  and  the  Seychelles Fishing Authority. Léo cofounded SOS in October 2019.

Projects

 

ALLEN CORAL ATLAS

Coral reefs are under threat worldwide from numerous environmental and anthropogenic stresses, and effective management and policy formation requires monitoring across all scales from local to global. Remote sensing provides a valuable complementary monitoring approach to manual (visual) survey, in particular at large scales (>10's km2) where manual surveys would be prohibitively expensive and impractical.

The Allen Coral Atlas project is using 2.6 m resolution satellite images to create a global map of coral reefs. Key mapping objectives are the abundance, distribution and health of living flora and fauna, also known as the benthos, and include benthic type (e.g. coral and algae), benthic change detection and coral bleaching.

SOS participates in the project by collecting ground-truth data, i.e. georeferenced-photos of different Seychelles reef habitats, to enable calibration of remote-sensing data and aid in the interpretation and analysis of what is being sensed

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THE SEYCHELLES MARINE BENTHIC MONITORING PROGRAM (SMBM)

The Seychelles Marine Benthic Monitoring Program’s main objectives are to produce evidence against which to evaluate the cause and direction of change in the Seychelles marine coastal environment, and to inform which management measures are appropriate and successful. Initiated in 2020 by SOS, the SMBM program relies on annual and seasonal georeferenced-photo surveys of the different benthic habitats around the Seychelles Islands. The spatio-temporal analysis of the benthic cover data through machine learning helps then building Seychelles marine benthic habitat mapping.

 

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PERSISTENT ORGANIC POLLUTANTS AND MICROPLASTICS IN TUNA (TIPTOP)

 

 

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An important and emerging issue for fisheries is the increasing prevalence of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and microplastics in the global ocean which present increasing physical and toxicological risks to marine organisms with the potential for compromising food security and trade initiatives. TIPTOP project aims to determine the occurrence of POPs and microplastics in South Pacific tunas and assess the risks associated with tuna consumption for the concerned populations. SOS brings its expertise and experience gained from past projects on POP contamination of large pelagic fish conducted in the western Indian Ocean. Results will contribute to a better understanding of the distribution of POPs and microplastics at regional and ocean scales and the bioaccumulation in high order marine predators.  

 

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Publications

Graham, N.A.J., Robinson, J.P.W., Smith, S.E., Govinden, R., Gendron, G., Wilson, S.K., 2020. Changing role of coral reef marine reserves in a warming climate. Nat. Commun. 11, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-15863-z

 

Summary: Coral reef ecosystems are among the first to fundamentally change in structure due to climate change, which leads to questioning of whether decades of knowledge regarding reef management is still applicable. Here we assess ecological responses to no-take marine reserves over two decades, spanning a major climate-driven coral bleaching event. Prebleaching reserve responses were consistent with a large literature, with higher coral cover, more species of fish, and greater fish biomass, particularly of upper trophic levels. However, in the 16 years following coral mortality, reserve effects were absent for the reef benthos, and greatly diminished for fish species richness. Positive fish biomass effects persisted, but the groups of fish benefiting from marine reserves profoundly changed, with low trophic level herbivores dominating the responses. These findings highlight that while marine reserves still have important roles on coral reefs in the face of climate change, the species and functional groups they benefit will be substantially altered.


 

Romanov, E.V., Nikolic, N., Dhurmeea, Z., Bodin, N., Puech, A., Norman, S., Hollanda, S., Bourjea, J., West, W., Potier, M., 2020. Trophic ecology of albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga) in the western tropical Indian Ocean and adjacent waters. Mar. Freshw. Res. https://doi.org/10.1071/MF19332

 

Summary: In this study we investigated the trophic ecology of albacore tuna in the western Indian Ocean and adjacent Atlantic waters based on stomach content analysis using a reconstituted length and weight of prey approach. From 686 non-empty stomachs collected between 2001 and 2015 across three biogeographic provinces, we describe the diet composition of albacore tuna, analyse its feeding habits and investigate the structure and diversity of mid-trophic-level communities. Epipelagic fish were found to be the principal prey by number and reconstituted weight; cephalopods were the second important prey group. Small organisms prevailed in the diet of albacore tuna, with predation on juvenile fish commonplace. Albacore tuna exhibits a flexible, opportunistic feeding strategy, from ram filter feeding on abundant schooling prey to visual predation on large individuals. Prey species richness varied highly across the region. Oligotrophic conditions within the subtropical gyre of the Indian Ocean generated the most diverse mid-trophic-level communities, with less diverse communities occurring in productive areas. Albacore tuna occupies a similar trophic niche throughout the global ocean, foraging on the same prey families and even species. This study indicates overall temporal stability of the Indian Ocean and south-east Atlantic ecosystems where principal prey species remain unchanged over decades.


 

Sardenne, F., Bodin, N., Latour, J.C.-T., McKindsey, C.W., 2020. Influence of lipid separation on the trophic interpretation of fatty acids. Food Webs e00146. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fooweb.2020.e00146

 

Summary: Fatty acids (FAs) are a common tool to investigate trophic ecology due to the transfer of several FAs across trophic levels. However, some dietary FAs are modified to maintain homeostasis. Therefore, for trophic purposes, there is the question of whether to separate lipid fractions into fatty acids that are physiologically regulated (structural, polar lipids) and those which are not (reserve, neutral lipids). This study compared the effect of lipid separation prior to FA analysis (total lipid versus neutral lipid fraction) on the ecological interpretations for several pelagic and benthic marine consumers. A tissue with high total lipid content, the hepatopancreas (total lipid content >17% dry weight), had similar FA proportions (in relative abundance) in both total and neutral lipid fractions. For lean muscle (total lipid content <10% dry weight), differences in FA proportions between lipid fractions were species-specific. Proportions of some FAs can be converted from one fraction to the other using simple linear models (e.g., 22:6n-3 and 18:1n-9 for pelagic consumers) but most differences in FA proportions cannot be corrected which should be considered when comparing data from the literature. The present study should be extended to other species and tissues to urther elucidate the importance of tissue total lipid content and neutral to total lipid ratio on the difference of dietary interpretations between total and neutral FA proportions. In particular, it would be useful for marine trophodynamic studies to define a guideline of the tissue total lipid content above which lipid separation is not required.

 

 

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