The Seychelles is lucky to be home to two species of sea turtle, the endangered green turtle (torti d mer) and the critically endangered hawksbill turtle (torti kare). When you have such amazing creatures on your doorstep, it’s always a nice idea to celebrate them – and that’s what we did two weekends ago here on Mahé at the second annual Seychelles Sea Turtle Festival.
On Friday 8 August the festival was officially opened by Minister of Environment Professor Rolph Payet at the National Theatre. This was followed by a fantastic afternoon of celebrating sea turtles for the students who have been participating in turtle-themed competitions over the past few months. Primary school students wrote and performed their own songs about sea turtles in the Seychelles, while secondary school students entered the public-speaking competition about sea turtle conservation in the Seychelles. And both primary and secondary students produced some amazing artwork for a turtle-themed calendar that is sponsored by the SOSF Island School Seychelles, Seychelles Island Foundation and Global Vision International. We were particularly proud that SOSF Island School Seychelles students Hamish Larue and Maryssa Samedi won prizes in the calendar and public-speaking competitions respectively.
Educational presentations were given by ‘Madam Torti’ (Dr Jeanne Mortimer) and two biologists from the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) on turtle conservation and biology. One of the highlights of the afternoon was the presentation by SOSF Island School Seychelles students about their encounters with turtles during their D’Arros Experience earlier this year. SOSF Island School Seychelles student Frances Benstrong, with Audrey Tirant, did a brilliant job of MCing the ceremony.
The next day saw the festival continue with the Family Fun Day at Beau Vallon. Environmental organisations came from across the Seychelles to tell the public about their conservation work with turtles. There were also lots of exciting activities for children (and adults!) with turtle crafts, face painting, kite flying, sand sculptures and much more. Radio station Pure FM was also there, broadcasting live, interviewing organisations, playing tunes and generally creating a great atmosphere. With the sun shining and the face paint flowing, a terrific turtle-tastic day was had by all.
This festival is quickly becoming a popular fixture on the Seychelles calendar. While it’s a fun-filled event, it also raises awareness about the threats facing sea turtles and about what is being done nationally to protect them. We can’t wait for next year’s festival, which we’re sure will be even bigger and better!
More photos and information about the festival can be seen on the Sea Turtle Festival of Seychelles Facebook page.