News

The D’Arros Experience and ‘How Save Our Seas Saved Me’

2nd November 2014

The eagerly awaited D’Arros Experience 2014 videos have now been released! To mark this event, on Saturday 22nd November, we held a screening of the videos at the Natural History Museum in Victoria. The ‘D’Arros Eksplorators’ from the 2014 and 2013 trips, along with their family and friends, were present. We were delighted to also welcome so many friends of SOSF Island School Seychelles, especially Michael Scholl, CEO of Save Our Seas Foundation who had just flown in that morning.

The videos were shown alongside students reading out their blogs and essays relating to their adventure. It was wonderful to reminisce on all of our amazing times out on D’Arros and St Joseph Atoll. Student Irma Dubois participated in last year’s adventure after completing a level 1 programme funded by Save Our Seas Foundation in 2012. Irma read her beautiful account of what impact the Save Our Seas Foundation experiences have had on her:

How Save Our Seas Saved Me by Irma Dubois

I’ve been in love with the ocean for as long as I can remember. I was eating sand by the age of two and by the age of six I was fixed in front of the TV watching documentaries of the magnificent world that lies beneath it. The camouflaged species which could lie amongst corals without being seen and which resembled them so much took my breath away, I wanted to know what? Where? Why? That whale shark that swam across the vast ocean in solitude feeding led me to believe it was the only one remaining of its species. This made me want to wrap my little arms around it and prevent anyone from getting to it.
Growing up I would watch those men diving in and out of the sea, observing what lived in and writing it on paper. At that point I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up, I just didn’t know what to call it. Then I went to the beach one day with my family my cousin had brought goggles, I was twelve by that time and everybody wanted a go, then it was my turn, not knowing how to swim I took my first dive, as I resurfaced I didn’t know what to do with myself I was in so much excitement; I had seen fish, they weren’t that big, but for me they were amazing and still are. This was the moment I knew this is truly what I want to do. That day I learned the word marine biologist from my cousin who was at the Maritime Training Centre at the time.

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Irma reading ‘How Save Our Seas Saved Me’.

I spent years trying to convince my mother to put me up for swimming lessons, without success, and years spent away from the ocean did not help me persevere till one day, I was given this letter by a school teacher (Sir Hollanda), who thought I would be interested for a competition about marine conservation. I took this as a once in a life time chance. I spent a lot of days working on a drawing as I really wanted to win, as I knew it would help get me out there and hopefully help me with my swimming problem and at the same time afraid they wouldn’t take me because of my swimming problem. But the teacher said not to worry about that for now. Time was running out and my drawing not finishing anytime soon so I decided to write a really good essay that the judges won’t be able to refuse. With a lot of research I wrote it with heart though my knowledge about the ocean was poor.

Then the news of my life came in, I had gotten in, but the dates clashed with my math extra classes. I had to convince my math teacher who I was terrified of at the time to change the dates of her extra classes, I asked Sir Hollanda to do it for me, and surprisingly she agreed at first. Then she changed her mind and made a deal with me instead that if she allows me to go I must promise to cover the part of the syllabus and complete all assignments I would be given and hand it back to her after the holidays. She gave me a book and as soon n as we broke off from school I started studying and cover the topics before the programme started in two weeks.

When the day finally came I was really nervous, Sir Hollanda accompanied me to the security gate as I didn’t know where the venue was. Then other students came, I didn’t know any one there, the only familiar face was unfamiliar to me so I kept to myself with one goal; to learn as much as I can and to persevere. Well it was easy to learn but to persevere with my lack of swimming and snorkeling skills, not so much. For every time I failed to snorkel properly, for every time I stayed on shore while others went snorkeling afar, I was as determined the next day, to do better, even when I got the cramps and thought I was going to die, I was ready cause I was in an environment that I loved and was doing something that I loved. This programme was the best thing life had ever put on my path that I wished it would never end. Every day before I attended classes I would visit my classmates in school for a short chat while handing them my already done assignments that I made sure to complete every night after class.

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Irma boarding the plane to start her D’Arros Experience in 2013. © Abi March

When I heard there was a level two and I had been chosen, I didn’t understand why, because I didn’t remember showing enthusiasm even when I was enthusiastic plus the fact that I wasn’t good in the water. As we got to the island it was love at first sight, D’Arros helped me a lot, my knowledge was not only extended and not only did I learned about and discovered new species but I learned how to swim against the current (thanks to Abi March), learned to be grateful (thanks to Abbie Hine), have walk 5 km, snorkel with sharks, seen a bale of turtles, seen sharks for the first time, seen a school of dolphins for the first time, sang in public for the first time, plant a tree that I hope is still alive, face my fear of heights and speed, experience an example of paradise and thanks to my not so caring snorkel partner developed independency in the water causing me to work twice as hard on my snorkeling. And most important of all I made new friends and got closer to the ones I already had, thanks to the D’Arros Experience I now have the most amazing best friend.

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Irma and Abi on the reef at D’Arros in 2013.

All of those skills and knowledge that I gained on D’Arros I use them each time I enter the water, when I found myself having to guide a client through rough sea and strong currents I remember what Abi taught me, I remember to ask them if they’re okay each time I think they are feeling discomfort especially the least confident swimmers, I make sure to hold their hands and guide them throughout, I forget my own fears and look confident so they will trust me and avoid any panic. I made sure to share my knowledge of fish identification and would do my best when asked ‘what fish is that?’ or ‘is it dangerous?’ And for my own benefit I try to remember the family of the different corals I come across. Nowadays I’m assisting Abi on weekends during snorkel sessions, I am always welcome to lend a hand to the least confident and I make sure to be the most patient, as I always say to myself “I was once in their place”. Abi always made sure I benefitted from the snorkel sessions and always held my hand when I was insecure and always kept an eye on me. And I am most grateful and I always make sure to do the same for others who are like I was and that I pass on what I’ve learned so they one day become as confident in the water.

Save Our Seas helped make a big and positive difference in my life… and I say thank you, as in trying to save our seas you saved me as well in the process.

The 2014 filming is a series of eleven short videos, they can be viewed at http://vimeopro.com/saveourseascom/darrosexperience2014

Additionally there is a combined 2013 and 2014 video which can be viewed at http://vimeo.com/110647936

Further pictures of the event can be found on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/islandschoolseychelles