Ocean News

Building for the future

29th June 2021

A new team and a new direction for the SOSF-D’Arros Research Centre

The winds of change have swept through our D’Arros Research Centre (DRC), bringing with them passionate new staff members from Seychelles and abroad, as well as some exciting new research and education projects. The new team at our SOSF-DRC are eager to dive in and get to work!

Cutting-edge research and marine conservation

Sharks, turtles, rays, reef mantas, fish and corals, as well as habitat assessments and environmental surveys, are the focus of the SOSF-DRC’s existing research projects, which continue to contribute to marine conservation in the region. Under the leadership of Dr Robert Bullock, the research director, the SOSF-DRC is now also supporting external researchers who have received SOSF keystone grants as they conduct marine mammal surveys and sample coral. Robert did his PhD research at the Bimini Biological Field Station in The Bahamas (a major partner funded by Save Our Seas Foundation), after which he worked as a postdoctoral researcher for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), assessing extinction risk to marine species. He believes in science-based conservation and took up the position as one of the SOSF-DRC’s directors in mid-2020.

The Save Our Seas Foundation D’Arros Research Center team in June 2021 (from left to right Henriette Grimmel, Robert Bullock, Stana Mousbe, Ellie Moulinie) Photo © Save Our Seas Foundation.

Training Seychellois youth

‘The priority moving ahead will be to start several interesting student-led projects with a focus on the conservation of species of concern,’ explains Robert. ‘I am also looking forward to building the team here on D’Arros. I am enjoying working with our two new Seychellois early-career scientists (Stana and Ellie], learning from them and growing the SOSF-DRC with them.’ Helena Sims, the SOSF’s Seychelles ambassador, adds, ‘Seychelles has a strong reputation for engaging youth in environment and conservation through the eco-schools programme. It is positive to see other entities such as the SOSF-DRC continuing to support the engagement of young people, particularly women, in science and conservation.’

Powerful education partnerships

For the SOSF, it is a high priority to continue running the D’Arros Experience that first ignited young Stana Mousbe’s fascination with the underwater world when she attended as a D’Arros Eksplorator in 2014. Henriette Grimmel, the SOSF-DRC’s programme director, will be spearheading these camps, which will host Seychellois secondary school students and educators at the centre. Henriette took up the position in mid-2020 after completing two MSc degrees. The first was in marine biodiversity and conservation, including fieldwork at the Bimini Biological Field Station in The Bahamas, and the second was in marine spatial planning. She is fascinated by ocean processes and ecosystem services and how humans use them, as well as finding a path to governing their use in a sustainable manner. On behalf of the foundation, she is collaborating with the University of Seychelles to provide internships for Seychellois Bachelor’s students at the SOSF-DRC.

Research director Robert Bullock and Programme director Henriette Grimmel with the blacktip reef sharks in the shallows near the dock at D'Arros. Photo © Luke Saddler

The future of Seychelles marine conservation

Ellie Moulinie, who is born and raised in Seychelles, has joined the team as a research assistant. Ellie is already a flourishing marine conservationist who firmly believes it is her duty and responsibility to protect threatened species and ecosystems from anthropogenic stressors that are causing the loss of biodiversity. As a research assistant for the SOSF-DRC, Ellie is playing her part in conserving her country’s marine heritage.

Stana, who is also proudly Seychellois, believes that the opportunities the SOSF provides are vital in enabling Seychellois youth to learn about and experience the richness of Seychelles marine life and the research that helps to inform conservation in their country. She is deeply grateful for the career opportunities the foundation exposed her to as a child through the D’Arros Experience. She knows this research assistant training will springboard her into an exhilarating career in marine conservation.