|Threatened Paradise -
On our visit to the Seychelles we had the opportunity
to see one of the most diverse and well-preserved ecosystems in the
world. The Seychelles lie in the middle of the Indian Ocean, 1600
kilometres east of the nearest continent - Africa. The result of this
geographical isolation is a totally unique flora and fauna with some
of the rarest and oldest creatures on Earth. Fortunately, with the
exception of crocodiles and some species of giant tortoises, which
were hunted to extinction by seafarers in the 18th century, much of
the land and marine wildlife is still relatively intact.
Part of a wide network of marine parks around the islands of Seychelles
is the oldest nature reserve in the Indian Ocean. St.Anne Marine National
Park, inaugurated as early as 1973 by the British, includes the reef
area surrounding 6 granite islands just off the main island of Mahe.
The rugged granite islands with their beaches and unspoilt offshore
waters provide a large number of marine and terrestrial environments,
such as coral reefs, granite boulders, sand flats, sea grass beds
and inter-tidal rocks.
is an important habitat for a variety of sea creatures, including
over 150 species of reef fish, octopi, sea urchins, crabs and sea
cucumbers. Many of these, for instance the endangered hawksbill turtle,
use the reefs to breed.
The park is also a very important feeding and breeding site for migrating
birds, such as the green-backed heron, various terns and waders.
In order to protect this extremely delicate interdependent ecosystem,
strict rules are applied by the park authority, forbidding the taking
of shells, damage or removal of any coral and of course, fishing.
However, in recent years one major threat that is not generated in
the Seychelles, is starting to show a negative effect on this environment
- global warming. Already, a rise in sea temperatures has been noticed
here and some coral reefs have started dying off. Coral can only exist
at a certain sea temperature and needs perfectly pure water to survive.
The disappearance of the coral, on which the whole local ecosystem
depends in some form or the other, would be fatal for this unique
Unless global warming can be stopped sooner rather than later, the
chances for survival of this ecological paradise, which features some
of the rarest endangered species on Earth, are very slim.
No matter how well protected the environment is by local laws, if
there is no international unity in seriously tackling the causes of
global warming, we will all have to face the consequences of having
destroyed the diversity of life on this planet. Ultimately, the loss
of fundamental components of our global ecosystem, such as coral reefs,
will seriously threaten the survival of our own species. In order
to survive we need to act globally and in unity. There is no more
time to waste.
/ Peace Boat's 36th Voyage