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Marine conservation in Mahe: what you’ll see and do in Seychelles

Article by GVI

GVI

Posted: September 14, 2022

5 min read

 

We caught up with Vivika Martini, an aspiring eco-innovation engineer/entrepreneur. Vivika studies mechanical engineering at UCLA and recently spent time on a marine conservation volunteer program in Mahe, Seychelles.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m 20, I live in London and attend university in the US. My family is from Italy, India and the UK. Since I was a child, I have always loved the ocean. I remember spending hours in the sea, swimming as far down as possible to the seabed to collect shells or look for octopuses whilst rock pooling with my dad. 

 

I have always loved the ocean. Diving makes me feel connected to it in a way that is indescribable. 

 

The marine conservation expedition in the Seychelles was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It introduced me to the world of research and conservation diving which I would love to further explore. It’s incredibly important to me to help preserve marine life for future generations so they can experience the awe and wonder I have for the ocean. I study mechanical engineering with the hopes of someday working on underwater robotics for scientific research and the monitoring of coral reefs. I’m keen to share my experiences and become an ambassador for GVI and our oceans!

 

What made you decide to join a program in Seychelles?

Scuba-diving was a natural progression for me. I remember the first time I went diving – I loved the weightlessness of being submerged underwater, looking up at the rippling surface glinting from the sunlight, and hearing the crackling of marine life. I knew this was something I wanted to do again and again.

The documentary Mission Blue on Silvia Earle also had a profound impact on me. Learning about coral bleaching struck a chord, especially since coral reefs are essential to the health of our oceans. This fed into the environmental campaigning I did at my school to create awareness about plastic pollution and climate change. Still, I knew I wanted to be involved in real-world research and not wait until after my university degree. I was thrilled when I came across the climate change and coral bleaching expedition with GVI as it combined two of the things I’m most passionate about – scuba-diving and marine conservation.

 

 

I was finishing up my first year at UCLA studying mechanical engineering. During my first year, I was a member of the Ocean Resources for Conservation and Advocacy (ORCA) club and the Underwater Robotics club, which worked alongside a marine biology research lab at UCLA to collect data. I’m currently preparing for my second year, and I hope to be even more active in these clubs and hopefully start my own marine conservation diving club.

 

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This experience made me realise how much I enjoyed fieldwork and that I wanted to understand and be connected to the planet as much as possible.

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Join us in Seychelles

 

I study mechanical engineering, but after this trip, I’ve decided to change my major to environmental science with a minor in environmental engineering. 

What did a typical day look like?

My days on base started with an early wake up at around 6:30, followed by morning chores – either cleaning the bathroom, preparing breakfast, or starting the compressor shift. Cooking for so many people and the loudness of the compressor was definitely something that took time to get used to. After breakfast, depending on the dive wave I was in, I would either kit up and go for the morning dives or do some more chores before the afternoon dives. Although I didn’t stay for a very long period, I still managed to do some surveys, which I really enjoyed. I especially enjoyed the sharking surveys we did in the morning and evening. Even though there were no sharks in sight, we were able to spot some beautiful rays, and I loved the tranquillity of the water whilst wading through it in search of anything exciting. The highlight of the dives for me was seeing whitetip reef sharks, a school of humphead wrasse, and swimming with dolphins.

 

 

In the evening, volunteers would hang out together or cook dinner together. I love cooking, so I would try to get involved whenever possible. I was surprised at how quickly I settled into a routine on base. I loved it – the complete immersion in nature and the sense of community and belonging I had whilst being there.

The evenings would consist of either chilling out in the rec room with the group, playing ping-pong and chatting, or playing frisbee on the beach with a gorgeous sunset as a backdrop. I spent a lot of time reading on the hammock under the trees. There were also a lot of opportunities to go hiking and spend weekends in Beau Vallon sipping cocktails and eating delicious food.

Follow Vivika on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or check out her website.

Are you passionate about the ocean and diving? Check out GVI’s marine conservation volunteer and scuba-diving opportunities in Seychelles. 

Photos: Vivika Martini.

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