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Our D’Arros experience: Birthday in paradise

By David Rowat, 9th May 2013

Written by Abi March

Everyday has been a special day for each of the students while we’ve been on D’Arros, but for one lucky student the second day was even more special as she celebrated her birthday in paradise…

Hello to you all, my name is Shafira Charlette, I live in Beau Vallon on Mahé in the Seychelles. I go to Seychelles School of Advanced Level Studies and am studying Mathematics, Business Studies and Economics. I have a great love for animals in general but especially the lovely marine animals, and every single day here I have encountered new species.

On 28th April, during the Academy on D’Arros, I turned 17 years old. It was a really great birthday! The first activity we did on my birthday was our first morning snorkel; we saw quite a lot of groupers, butterflyfish and parrotfish and best of all our first hawksbill turtle in D’Arros waters. We also saw some really nice healthy corals! This ONE snorkel session was better than all the snorkelling we did at Beau Vallon that’s for sure!!

After our amazing snorkel, Abi did a presentation about birds, especially the birds found on the island. We took a walk on the beach doing a bird survey where we had to count the different species of birds we could see, what they were doing and where they were found. We saw frigate birds, whimbrels, ruddy turnstones, house sparrows, fairy terns, noddies and lots more. It was a competition between the ‘Whale shark’ and ‘Coral’ teams but it was a tie! We later watched a great coral presentation by Coral Abbie, where she explained the different types of hard and soft coral, what they do and why they’re important (e.g. homes for about a quarter of all marine animals), and what threats they face (natural and human).

In the afternoon we went on a boat trip to St Joseph Atoll. On our way there Abi, Abbie, Moose, Andy, Brian and the skipper Darnsley had to pull the boat inside the lagoon because it was quite low tide and the boat was getting stuck on the sand. As we got closer to St Joseph Island (the biggest island in the atoll), we saw some fairy terns and frigate birds and quite a huge bale of turtles! There was 20 of them passing by the boat and then swimming away very fast, just with a flap of their flippers they would travel metres. We also went to Fouquet Island (the second largest island on the atoll) where we saw two small sting rays. We got off the boat and had a look around the island; Coral Abbie found a nautilus shell and we all saw some wedge-tailed shearwater nests. We then went back on the boat to look for sharks, especially lemon sharks and luckily we did see some, but only their fins, the visibility wasn’t at a pleasant level!

We got back to our chalet, took a shower and went for dinner. Abi surprised me with a really nice chocolate sponge birthday cake, Brian and I had to light up all the candles and then I had to rapidly blow them out! I couldn’t come up with a birthday wish because everything was happening so fast and I wasn’t thinking right but I LOVED it! I also received a birthday card made by Andy Alvis and it contained really nice birthday wishes from the important people from D’Arros and my academy friends. Abi took a lot of photos and I hope to see them soon.

It was definitely the best birthday ever! When will I ever get the chance to spend my birthday on a coralline island and be able to see such amazing creatures again?! Even if I wanted to spend my 17th birthday with my friends and family, I wouldn’t change this day for anything because it was just perfect.

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