Safety during conservation dives

Nature Seychelles has just purchased a new set of diving gear for staff working at the Island Conservation Centre (ICC) on Praslin Island as well as on Cousin Island Special Reserve. The gear includes wet suits, buoyancy control devices, pressure and depth gauges, and inflator hoses.  

Diving gear has been a key component in Nature Seychelles’ six year Reef Rescuers Project from initial scientific research, creating underwater coral nurseries, cleaning and filling the nurseries, later transplanting ‘designer’ reefs to new sites, and on-going monitoring.  This diving gear is also important for installation and maintenance of buoys.

“We have demarcation buoys for the 400 meters of water around Cousin Island which is a marine park protected by law. If a fisherman is nearby they should be able to clearly see the buoys and know they are not allowed to fish in that area,” explains Eric Blais Nature Seychelles’ Island Coordinator. 

“We have another set of buoys for tourists and other visitors coming to Cousin to indicate where they can moor to be picked up by our boats which are the onely ones allowed to land on the island. We do this to ensure no introduced species or predators such as rats end up on Cousin.” Blais adds.

 Eric at Nature Seychelles office on Mahe, unpacking and repacking the gear to be sent to Praslin

The purchase of the new diving gear coincided with the recent inspection by the Seychelles Bureau of Standards (SBS), of Nature Seychelles’ diving tanks. The tanks are checked annually by SBS for wear and tear, making sure they are rust free and have no leaks.  

“Our staff’s safety while they are performing their duties is of paramount importance,” says Ms. Kerstin Henri, Nature Seychelles Director. “Any equipment our staff uses must be of first-rate quality and regularly maintained or replaced as and when necessary. It goes without saying that anyone diving must be PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) qualified.”

In as much as diving is fun, if the proper procedures are not followed, it can potentially be a fatal activity. All the components of a complete set of diving gear are designed with safety as key but it is up to the person diving to make sure they are used correctly. 

The wet suit is ideal for diving in climatic regions such as the Seychelles – the water which comes through the suit is heated by the diver’s skin thereby keeping them warm. Conversely in cooler regions a dry suit keeps the moisture out and the garments underneath remain dry, keeping the diver warm.

 Reef Rescuers monitoring a coral transplantation site

The pressure and depth gauge work as one – if you are running out of air in your tank (pressure), you should probably not be too far from the surface of the water, it is time to get out of the water. The buoyancy control device should help you get back to the surface easier or get deeper. 

“It is very important for safety reasons to have a dive buddy and Nature Seychelles staff never dive alone whenever they are carrying out any marine monitoring or maintenance work,” Blais emphasises. “For example the ‘octopus’ is an additional air source that your dive buddy can use in case they have a problem with say a leaking tank. Conservation is important but preserving your life is more important”

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