Coral saboteurs strike again!

Nature Seychelles' globally renowned Reef Rescuers project has once again fallen victim to theft! An outboard Yamaha engine attached to the project's boat was stolen from Grand Anse in Praslin last week. The theft was reported to the police at Grand Anse.

The boat was moored at Grand Anse Praslin

The boat was moored at Grand Anse Praslin

This marks the second time a boat engine has been stolen from the coral reef restoration project. The first theft occurred in 2021 when both the boat and engine were stolen and never recovered.

Dr. Nirmal Jivan Shah Nature Seychelles Chief Executive strongly condemned the theft saying that these unreasonable actions have sabotaged this project. “This globally recognized coral reef restoration project to help Seychelles save its coral reefs has once again been handicapped by thieves,” he said. “The theft undermines the Praslin community, which is supportive and gaining a worldwide reputation due to this work,” he added.

Coral reefs face a myriad of problems, most notably the catastrophic and widespread climate change-induced coral bleaching. Around the world, coral restorers are racing against time to help corals recover.

Active since 2010, Nature Seychelles’ restoration project focuses on rehabilitating Cousin Island Special Reserve's fringing reefs. Its third phase is supported by the Adaptation Fund, UNDP, and the Seychelles government.

The theft has halted all in water activities impacting critical project elements

The theft has halted all in-water activities impacting critical project elements

The theft has stopped all in-water activities impacting critical project elements and targets.

“We were in the process of stocking corals in the underwater nursery for a scientifically important experiment to test the thermo-tolerance of specific coral species being targeted for the restoration project,” says Luca Saponari, the Reef Rescuers team leader and the NGO’s Senior Science & Technical Field Officer.

“This has stopped the vital preparation stage. We had to leave some corals in a temporary location. We hope they can withstand the shallower and turbid conditions. With these delays, the quality and scientific rigor of the experiment are affected, impacting access to crucial data for coral practitioners in the region. A Master's student arriving to follow this closely will also have her plans delayed,” he added.

“We are constantly racing to meet targets due to unpredictable weather and conditions. The aim is to outplant as many corals as possible on as many good days as possible. Every day counts!” Luca emphasized.

The boat is a vital tool for the project

The boat is a vital tool for the project

Other affected priority activities include cleaning and maintaining nurseries, collecting data for ongoing experiments, and conducting photogrammetry surveys for annual monitoring.
The project has also welcomed a new staff member and three volunteers. They are now all grounded and their in-water training will delay.

Expressing frustration one of the team members said it was "low" and "demoralizing” of people to steal such a valuable tool from an NGO trying to do good.

Nature Seychelles is unsure when it will get another boat engine or how it will prevent theft from happening again.

At present, the team is stuck on land unable to be on the frontlines of coral restoration despite another season of potentially high ocean temperatures that threaten to decimate coral populations.

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