Coastal Ecology of the Seychelles
Caroline Wanjiru has just completed her Masters at the Univeristy of Nairobi, studying ecological marine management with a focus on aquaculture. She was nominated to join the Earthwatch project Coastal Ecology of the Seychelles in January 2009, as the research focus of the team complimented her own research project, Integrated Fish Farming in the Mangroves of Mtwapa, Kenya.
The project was very timely, as I had just completed a marine biology course and this was a great chance to do some actual practical work. This was made more exciting by the fact that this was the first time this kind of work was being done in this particular area.
I was very impressed by the fact that people from different backgrounds and countries could give up their daily routines and give two weeks of their time to do something that may be completely unconnected to their daily lives in their own country, and the fact that the information collected was likely to most directly benefit a country other than their own. There was work for every individual to do such that everyone was contributing to the whole. The work was also interesting and after some time everyone found their niche and we enjoyed playing out our parts.
The Earthwatch scientists were obviously very knowledgeable people in whatever we were doing and they knew so much that I was just amazed. They gave us hints on how to identify some organisms. I can never forget this information and I can now teach a thing or two about crab and mollusc identification myself! I am more knowledgeable on conservation and some marine organisms like molluscs and crabs. I am also now conversant in sampling techniques and I can teach other people or fellow students. Though I was already very aware of conservation issues, I always felt like I did not have a direct part to play in it. But as we worked and talked about this during the project, it came out that we all have a part to play. I am now more aware of how I use resources like water and energy. I am trying to do something for the planet. I also have become more appreciative of what God has created and am committed to taking care of it. I benefited a lot from the work that we did, the methods we used and even the talks that we had. At the end, there was this feeling that every one of us had a role to play and we could not just sit back and expect governments to do it or complain when they do not. For me, I came out of the project with goals about conservation which I intend to achieve and I also hope to involve other people in my community.
I am also glad because my team work skills were greatly improved. It was great to be working with people from many areas of life with some knowing nothing about marine conservation while others had vast knowledge. I learnt to be patient and to work together with those who did not know while I was humbled as I learnt from the ones who knew and we each did our piece to complete the whole. That was a very good experience for me.
I feel much more confident in marine environments now because I can now identify organisms and I notice things I never did before. I also learnt sampling techniques which I can use in my own work and help my colleagues with such information. I am working on sustainable aquaculture in mangrove areas, and there were several other people on the project interested in or working in this area. We will now look to help each other in the future as opportunities become available in these and other important issues.
This team was funded by the Mitsubishi Corporation Fund for Europe and Africa.