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Fregate Island shows off its wild side to Seychelles maritime students

Fregate, Seychelles | February 5, 2016, Friday @ 14:45 in National » GENERAL | By: Sharon Meriton Jean and Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 3960
Fregate Island shows off its wild side to Seychelles maritime students

Lynn Anthony and Joshua Maria with three foreign volunteers during their placement on the luxurious island of Fregate. (Fregate Island Private )

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(Seychelles News Agency) - Remote, luxurious island extends wilderness experience to students of Seychelles Maritime Academy.

Spending two weeks on a remote island in Seychelles is everyone’s dream, especially when the island is Fregate, renowned for being a cocoon for the rich and famous.

Lynn Anthony and Joshua Maria, two students from the Seychelles Maritime Academy, described the experience as amazing.

“My time there was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life,” Lynn told SNA.

Located 55 kilometres east of Mahe, the most populated island of Seychelles, Fregate has a long list of special inhabitants endemic to the island nation. This includes the Seychelles Magpie Robin, land tortoises, terrapins and giant millipedes spread out over a surface area of over 22 hectares of lush vegetation, overlooking breathtaking beaches.

Named after the local frigate bird, Fregate Island Private was the dazzling honeymoon location chosen by the once-golden couple from Hollywood, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. Fregate is a jewel among the Seychelles’ 115 western Indian Ocean islands.

Fregate is the ideal location for those seeking a unique experience. With its clear waters, shimmering white beaches, and endemic birds, the island offers a haven of tranquility and privacy.

“I was really amazed when doing night walks and night surveys by the amount and different species we could see. I even grew a liking for them and also an interest in them,” said Anthony.

Given the number of surveys and the monitoring of the different species on the island, as well as continual fine-tuning of existing conservation program, extra pairs of hands are often needed, said Tanya Leibrick, manager of ecology and conservation of Fregate Island Private. 

Two years ago, Fregate started a two year voluntary program for four foreign volunteers to help with these projects for a period of six months. At the end of 2015 when the rest of their peers were in festive moods, Lynn and Joshua were invited for a work placement on Fregate, joining the three foreign volunteers.

Both of the 17-year-olds are studying advanced fisheries science, and part of their studies involves learning how to collect data and manipulate instruments that ensure conservation of terrestrial and marine species.

“It’s vital for us to have Seychellois students participating in our environmental programs. The students gain new practical skills as well as experiencing life on one of the smaller islands,” said Leibrick.

Some of the students’ activities during their month on the island included discovering the Fregate giant tenebrionid beetle (Polposipucherculeanus), handling slimy caecilians and snakes, tagging sea turtles, and looking out for dolphins and whales.

“A great thing is that we did not only learn about the animals. [They] taught us the name of some of the plants which are found on the island, such as the dragon tree, beach morning glory, takamaka,” said Joshua.

“On the road to Grand Anse you can find a very old tree where you may see scorpions, beetles and millipedes. That tree is a great place to find them!” Joshua added.

The Advanced Fisheries Science program at the Seychelles Maritime Academy runs for two years. The course includes classroom and real-world experiences. (Fregate Island Private ) Photo License: CC-BY

According to course lecturer Rodney Bonne, the students are placed in organizations linked to their interest and of benefit to their future career choices.

“Some organizations sometimes get in touch with us looking for students that have interest in working with them, therefore they will train the students in order to fill that  particular vacant  position,” says Bonne.

The program was so successful that Seychelles Maritime Academy and Fregate Island Private will look to continue the collaboration, said the island’s ecology and conservation manager, Tanya Liebrick.

“It was a pleasure having them as part of the team. Their hard work, enthusiasm and passion for nature was fantastic and they really threw themselves into the challenges of island life,” says Liebrick.

Liebrick added that the Seychelles has a long history of impressive conservation achievements and these students are the key to its on-going success.

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Tags: conservation, Seychelles Maritime Academy, Fregate Island Private

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