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UK Students Report on their Marine Conservation Field Trip in Mauritius

Community Spotlights

Staff and students from Nottingham Trent University in the UK embarked on an expedition to Blue Bay, Mauritius, to carry out surveys as part of the marine and terrestrial research of Dr. Nicholas Ray and Mr. Graham Shelbourne.

Students participating in this ongoing research project come from a range of degree courses including Wildlife Conservation, Environmental Science, Animal Biology and Zoo Biology but what they all have in common is a commitment to help the fight to protect endangered species and a passion for furthering their knowledge and experience with both terrestrial and aquatic species.

The trip took place during CITES CoP16 held in March 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand, where Member of the Parties voted to protect vulnerable shark and ray species from illegal and unsustainable trade. The students took on this opportunity to shout out for sharks and show their support to Project AWARE's “Extinction is NOT an Option” campaign by proudly sporting t-shirts designed specifically for the occasion. The students shared their knowledge, enthusiasm and passion with the local communities educating and inspiring them through the hard work they were doing collecting debris and recording data for analysis.

Transects were set up collecting debris both on the local beaches and in the sea by both land and marine teams. Debris was collected from each of the transects and taken back to base where identification and recording of the different types of plastics was completed and then disposed of responsibly. The data collected contributes to creating a global picture of the negative impact that plastic is having in and around our oceans.

The marine team led by Dr. Nicholas Ray continued their on-going biodiversity surveying of the lagoon and outer reef in an attempt to ascertain the health of the oceans in south-east Mauritius however they were pleased to report a distinct lack of debris at the dive sites.

The excellent on-going work of Mukesh Buldewa (owner of Coral Diving Centre and PADI Course Director) and his team have ensured that divers are very aware of the impact of debris in and around the dive sites and are involved in regular Dive Against Debris surveys throughout the year.

The daily collections of debris were a great success in the overall clean-up operation and generated a lot of interest from the locals who are now getting used to the presence of Nottingham Trent University students around Easter time working in collaboration with the local NGO Eco-Sud.

After last year's expedition Dr. Nicholas Ray said "It is hoped that the continued efforts of Eco-Sud under the Lagon Bleu project name and the presence of more student volunteers to help with the marine research will highlight the need for further Dives Against Debris and bring the local community together to continue to protect and preserve their local marine environment."

This year Dr. Nicholas Ray was pleased to report that the trip was once again a resounding success addressing his special thanks to Mukesh Buldewa, Christophe Bauluck and the rest of the team at Coral Diving who were such a great help with the marine project and the on-going support of Lagon Bleu and their team of volunteers. "Long may be our connections for the love of the ocean! Let's keep up the fight for a healthy ocean," he added.

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