Michaela Maria brings a whole new meaning to the expression ‘been there, done that got a t-shirt’. Michaela has volunteered with Nature Seychelles twice on Cousin Island Special Reserve and she found her own way of making the memories of her experience last as long as possible.
Volunteers working on Cousin are provided with a Cousin Island Special Reserve t-shirt while they are based on the island. Michaela however decided she needed more than a t-shirt and when she went back home after her stint on Cousin, she printed several calendars, a sundress and personalised her phone cover with the pictures she took while on the island. She even has a blog which outlines what she says is an unforgettable experience in Seychelles.
Michaela works as a land surveyor in Germany and had visited the Seychelles as a tourist a couple of times when she learnt of the possibility to volunteer with Nature Seychelles. She volunteered for several weeks between April and June 2015 and then again between January and February 2016.
“I was very happy to be given the opportunity to volunteer on Cousin Island a second time,” she says all smiles. “Before coming to work on Cousin this second time, I took an advanced PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) course and got a boat driving license too so that I could take part in diving tasks with the Cousin staff.”
The waters around Cousin Island are protected under Seychelles law as a marine reserve. As part of their tasks, Cousin staff carry out regular monitoring of the health of the marine ecosystem, which Michaela had the chance to join in on.
“This time I did not even have a chance to go to the view point!” Michaela says. “I was volunteering during the hawksbill turtle nesting season, the main reason I chose to return at this time of the year. Each time I wanted to go up to the viewpoint there would be a hawksbill turtle coming up to nest or hatchlings heading for the sea. I did not want to miss any of this.”
Michaela recently visited Nature Seychelles offices at The Sanctuary in Roche Caiman to present her calendar to Dr Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles’ CEO. The calendar is filled with pictures of land and seabirds, marine creatures as well as Cousin staff during boat transfers. The wildlife in the calendar is all labelled with their scientific, English, Creole and German names.
“I wanted to create something interesting that would make it easier for people to understand the conservation work carried out on Cousin and how they can get involved,” Michaela explains as she proudly shows each page of the calendar.