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Belgian couple team up with French couple to save distressed green turtle while holidaying on the Seychelles island of Silhouette

Silhouette island, Seychelles | October 11, 2015, Sunday @ 14:31 in Environment » CONSERVATION | By: Sharon Uranie | Views: 3221
Belgian couple team up with French couple to save distressed green turtle while holidaying on the Seychelles island of Silhouette

The visitors watching closely as the green turtle gained back its strength and slowly headed back to the water. (Jean Michel and Mireille Mureau)

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(Seychelles News Agency) - What set out to be a day of exploring and enjoying the beautiful scenery of Silhouette, the Seychelles third largest island, on Thursday, ended with a rescue operation for a group of tourists who had to join forces to save a green turtle that had ran into some difficulties.

The Island Conservation Society (ICS), a non-governmental organisation, which has a permanent presence on the island posted the good deed on its Facebook page on Friday.

The distressed turtle had been found flipped upside down at Anse Patate, a beach on the eastern side of Silhouette island, which lies some 30 kilometres from the Seychelles main island of Mahé.

“We suspect the turtle had been wondering on land seeking a place to nest and flipped whilst descending back onto the beach and had been stuck for some time when found!,” said ICS. 

The green turtle was flipped upside down and very weak when first found by Belgian couple Jean Michel and Mireille Mureau. (Jean Michel and Mireille Mureau) Photo License: All Rights Reserved

Interestingly though, ICS which maintains a presence on other Seychelles islands including Desroches and Alphonse only had to thank the visiting rescuers who alerted the team on Silhouette only after they had led the distressed turtle back to its ocean home.

« On a fait notre bonne action pour aujourd'hui, » [We have done our good deed for today].  That is what ICS’ Conservation ranger Ella Nancy and her colleague Benny Moncherry who had only started working for the conservation organisation the day before were told by the couple who walked into their office at around 2pm on Thursday.

Nancy who has been working for ICS for almost two years now joined the Silhouette team in December last year after spending about 10 months working on Desroches island, told SNA that the heroic rescuers were full of excitement as they recounted their adventure.

“They said it was a pleasure for them to help the turtle and that it was a great experience for them,” said Nancy.

In a telephonic interview with SNA this morning, Jean Michel Mureau recounted how he was walking up a pathway together with his wife Mireille, after a stroll at Anse Patate, when they spotted the distressed turtle.

“It was lying on its back, not moving and looked dead. So I approached and stroked the turtle and it started to show signs of life and started to move,” said Mureau.

The couple hailing from Belgium were holidaying at the Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa.

Mureau explained to SNA that he had to call for help to save the marine species, which he estimates could easily weigh between 150 to 200 kilos, adding that it would have been impossible to move the turtle by himself.

“Further behind us came a French couple who were also on a stroll, so I called for the man’s help and he came and together we gently turned and poured water on its head and carapace. We then slowly directed the turtle towards the sea. It soon started to gain strength and swam away.”

Thanks to the help of the Mureau's and another French couple the green turtle slow;y found its way back to the ocean.  (Jean Michel and Mireille Mureau) Photo License: All Rights Reserved

The Belgian couple were on their first visit to the Indian Ocean archipelago, and according to Jean Michel Mureau this is the first time he has had the opportunity to save such a species, although he has been a member of a conservation organisation for many years.

“For more than 30 years I have been a member of the Cousteau Foundation and I never had the opportunity to put into practice what is expected of being a member of an organisation working towards the preservation of nature and animals.”

‘Fondation Cousteau’, known today as ‘Equipe Cousteau’ is a France based organisation founded in 1982 by French Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau. There is also a sister organisation named ‘Cousteau Society’ which is headquatered in the US state of Virginia.

The main goal of both organisations is to create public awareness worldwide about the need to protect the planet engaging in exploration and conservation of ecosystems.

While the green turtle is now safely back to its Ocean home, the Belgian Couple Jean Michel and Mireille Mureau are also making their way back home this afternoon, with the hope of coming back to Seychelles.


Back to the open sea escaping what could have been a tragic end for the green turtle  (Jean Michel and Mireille Mureau) Photo License: All Rights Reserved

While it is not very common there have been a few incidents of turtles running into difficulties when venturing on land to lay their eggs. What is most interesting however, is the fact that this is not the first time visitors holidaying on the Seychelles shores more precisely on Silhouette have been hailed as conservation heroes.

A little over a year ago, a French couple Nicolas and Carolina LeClerc also came to the rescue of a green turtle stranded at ‘Ramasse Tout’, above ‘Anse Cimitière’, with the help of ICS rangers.

The Seychelles archipelago is a common nesting ground for two out of seven species of sea turtles in the world; the green sea turtle and the hawksbill sea turtle.

Both species frequent the tropical regions, with the hawksbill turtle or Eretmochelys imbricate listed as critically endangered and the Green turtle or Chelonia mydas listed as endangered on the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which is the main authority on the conservation status of species in the world.

The nesting season for both species of turtle in the Indian Ocean archipelago is between October and April, coinciding almost exactly with the calm monsoon season when gentle trade winds blow towards the north-west.

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Tags: green turtle, Island Conservation Society, ICS, Silhouette, French couple, Belgian couple, IUCN, Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa

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