FÉLICITÉ ISLAND, Seychelles – June 19, 2019 – In May 2019, the sustainability team at Six Senses Zil Pasyon successfully completed the first stage of its coral restoration project. The project was put in place in October 2017 on the surrounding reef of Félicité as a technique to accelerate its recovery. It is part of a larger habitat restoration plan, which continues to unroll on the island in collaboration with two local NGOs; the Ramos Marine & Island Reserve and Nature Seychelles alongside the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA). During the first two years of the coral restoration project, over a thousand grown corals have been transplanted back to the reef in the marine protected area between the northern side of Félicité and Coco Island.
Over recent years, corals have been under threat due to global heating and climate crisis. Because of the sudden increase of sea surface temperatures, the corals expel the algae living in symbiosis within their cells that provide up to 90 percent of their food requirements, making them white and resulting in widespread mortality (a process called coral bleaching).
Coral reefs comprise thousands of tiny creatures, named polyps, which exude a hard exoskeleton made of calcium carbonate. This creates a complex structure offering shelter, food and protection for a wide array of organisms and affecting livelihoods, food security and economic progress of marine species. This increase in the ocean’s water temperature can be caused by El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), an event intensified by climate change, which caused up to 95 percent mortality in coral reefs and reduced coral cover from 50 to 5 percent around Seychelles in 2016.
Resilient species of coral
Some types of corals manage to survive these conditions and create heat resistant strains capable of functioning in warmer waters. Based on this, the coral restoration project was born on Félicité and its objective was to plant two resilient species or coral back onto the reef in order to create a healthy and self-sustaining ecosystem.
An underwater nursery was built for the corals to grow before they are transplanted on the reef. This mid-water structure of 66 x 20 feet (20 x 6 meters) consisted of 22 ropes attached to PVC pipes, anchored to the sea floor and kept afloat using jerry cans. The nursery was situated around 23 feet (seven meters) from the surface to avoid sedimentation, coral predators and to facilitate an optimal light for faster coral growth. Because of their growth, survival rates, and their resistance to the temperature anomalies in 2016, the species selected were Pocillopora grandis and Acropora abrotanoides.
By August of 2018, a total of 1,750 fragments were stocked in the nursery and the transplantation process started in October 2018. Grown corals were fixed onto the rocky seafloor or on old dead coral using a mix of water-resistant materials. Within three months, the team was delighted to see that the coral tissue had started to grow. The project was completed in May 2019 with 1,339 successfully transplanted corals over the 1,750 grown colonies. At the beginning of the project the sizes varied between 1.20 to 4.3 inches (three to 11 centimeters) and in the final stage some of them reached an approximate size of 15.74 inches (40 centimeters).
According to the satellite models of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there is a warning for a coral bleaching event in the Seychelles this year, induced by El Niño heat stress, with the highest chance of mortality occurring between May and August. Some studies declare that colonies which survived previous bleaching events have higher chances of survival and can spread their resilient characters. In the same way, transplanted corals can help recruit new juvenile corals naturally, increasing the recovery of the ecosystem, as it’s being proved in other Seychelles regions, making coral reef restoration effective for a longer period.
After the successful completion of this first phase, the next step will involve the monitoring of the reef’s health, and especially of the transplanted corals. The Sustainability team are now conducting surveys for the design of a new type of coral nursery, which will further enhance the restoration of the marine ecosystem surrounding the island of Félicité.
Fully grown corals in the nursery ready to be transplanted to the reef.
Click here to download this image in high resolution
A transplanted piece of coral visited by two butterfly fish.
Click here to download this image in high resolution
About Six Senses Zil Pasyon
Six Senses Zil Pasyon is located on the private island of Félicité, the fifth largest island in Seychelles, offering unsurpassed vistas of the ocean and surrounding islands. This 30-villa and two multi-bedroom residence resort occupies one third of the total land and has been brilliantly designed to embrace the picturesque landscape of untouched beauty.
Six Senses Spa Zil Pasyon is located among beautiful rock formations on the water’s edge. All spa facilities, including five individual treatments villas, a unique wet area experience with saltwater infinity pool and a yoga and meditation pavilion, fit seamlessly into the natural surroundings, at one with the nature.
About Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas
Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas is one of the world’s leading operators of luxury hotels, resorts and spas, managing 19 hotels and resorts across 15 countries, plus 37 spas under the brand names Six Senses, Evason, Six Senses Spas and Raison d’Etre. There are a further 18 hotels and resorts signed into its development pipeline. In February 2019, Six Senses became part of the IHG® (InterContinental Hotels Group) family of hotel brands.
Six Senses properties share a leadership commitment to community, sustainability, wellness and design, infused with a touch of quirkiness. Whether an exquisite island resort, mountain retreat or urban hotel, the enduring purpose is to help people reconnect with themselves, others and the world around them.
Six Senses Spas offers a wide range of holistic wellness, rejuvenation and beauty treatments administered under the guidance of expert therapists in all resorts as well as at 16 additional standalone spas. The high-tech and high-touch approach guides guests on their personal path to well-being, taking them as deep as they want to go.
Six Senses Residences provides the best life has to offer. From beautifully-appointed villas on the beach, rustic chalets in the mountains and spacious urban hideaways, Six Senses features a variety of residential choices in stand-alone buildings or attached to a resort or hotel. No matter the location, the promise remains the same and the commitment to create a community where every day revolves around learning and growing, great food and drink, innovative wellness programming, sustainable living – all mixed in with a lot fun.
Evason follows the Six Senses philosophy of uncompromised responsibility to sustainability and the community. Its two unique resorts provide a strong value focus, while offering a vast array of personal guest experiences that the whole family will love.
For further information, please contact:
Marketing Communications Manager
Six Senses Zil Pasyon
M +248 2825640
Benjawan Sudhikam (Ms.)
Director of Public Relations
Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas
T +66 2 631 9781
M +66 8 181 38234