Latest News

News updates from Cousin Island


Kevin the Ketchup Licker and Friends


Over the years, and during many months living on research bases throughout the world, I have learned that roommates come in all shapes and sizes. Big ones, small ones, messy ones, clean ones, friendly ones, rude ones, and I am sure we have all had the occasional strange one before. I certainly have. But none so strange as the roommates I have found myself living with on Cousin Island.

Categories: Living on a nature reserve, Volunteering


Turtle Season has ended: Turtle bloopers!

turtle emerge

All island managers and conservationist can now take a sigh of relief as the turtle season comes to an end.

After a busy season of patrolling beaches there is something very satisfying in looking back over the seasons data and finalizing it ready for writing the annual turtle report. As I look back over the season there are some turtles that stand out in my memory, I will tell you about these turtles and their interesting stories.

Categories: Turtles, Conservation, Research, Volunteering, Nature People


George's photo diary

Hi, my name is George. I weigh over 250kg. I am really old. I am an Aldabra Giant Tortoise. I live on Cousin Island. This is my photo diary. Matt helped me to write it. Share it with your friends if you like. I don't mind people taking a peek at my personal life, such as it is. Love, George

  • george
  • George-at-sunrise
  • George-and-ben
  • george-and-cheryl
  • george-eating-bananas
  • george-conspicous
  • george-talking-a-walk
  • george-socialising
  • george-being-a-rock
  • george-mating
  • george-pumping-iron
  • george-football
  • george-zil-air
  • george-goes-through-tent
  • george-shamefaced
  • george-sliding
  • george-saying-goodbye
  • My name is George
  • I’m not a big ‘morning-person’, but when I wake from my slumber, I like to watch the sunrise and ponder over my plans for the day
  • I had a fantastic Christmas last year. I spent the day with the volunteers eating and reminiscing on bygone years. As you can see, Ben and I are very close.
  • Cheryl's nice too...
  • I am a big fan of bananas. This is a photo of me tucking into my Christmas dinner.
  • I’m a pretty conspicuous fellow. If you happen to visit Cousin it shouldn’t take you too long to find me
  • But just in case, I am normally doing one of my three favourite things. Firstly, I like taking walks around the island
  • Secondly, I like meeting up with friends for a good chat by the research house. It’s the place to be.
  • Thirdly, I like to pretend that I am a rock.
  • I might, when the mood takes me (and despite my years), be trying to do my bit to maintain the species
  • But I have to hit the weights to keep fit and work on my muscles. I no longer rely on my chiseled jaw line and personality alone to pull the ladies
  • I relax by watching the boys at football
  • Every now and then we get large, noisy and peculiar migratory birds on the island. They confuse me.
  • The other day I came across a new building on Cousin. There was no opening, so I used my stealth and cunning to find a way inside
  • Oops. It was important for the Warbler researchers (not the en-suite bedroom that I mistook it for). I have since apologised to the Warblers
  • Sometimes, I throw caution to the wind, climb to the top of Cousin and slide back down the slope on my belly. It’s a big adrenaline rush, a real knee trembler
  • I am going to go and do that now. I hope that you can come and visit me very soon. I shall sing you a farewell song.

Categories: Wildlife


A wave of new life

Turtle hatchlings emerge from a nest on Cousin Island


It started slowly at first. Sporadic, barely perceptible ripples of movement disturbed the otherwise dormant oasis of sand. Like a symphony rising to its crescendo, the bubbling beach was building our anticipation before revealing its secret. There was something beneath the surface and it was fighting its way out.

We had timed it perfectly. With the help of orange marker tape and GPS coordinates marking the location we had found the small patch of sand easily enough. But, that was no guarantee that the nest, so dutifully laid by a critically endangered hawksbill turtle, would hatch in the small window of time we were there. Sitting between beach markers E and F on Cousin Island we were about to become the lucky onlookers to one of those unique spectacles that nature occasionally bestows upon the fortuitous few.

Categories: Turtles, Conservation, Volunteering, Nature People


Liam has the post Cousin Island blues...

Liam cousin post

It's cold, it's midnight here in London and I'm arriving home after 80 days of island life. I've had to put on my woollen jumper and jacket that haven't been touched in months, that I flew all the way to Cousin Island to leave in a cupboard and then brought all the way back with me just for this occasion, these few hours to get me home from the airport. The smell of soot, rain and tarmac fills my nostrils and the permanent orange glow of UK streetlights are so familiar that in my sleep-deprived state I genuinely wonder if I've imagined the last eleven weeks. The coach driver outside the airport is predictably grumpy and welcomes me on board with a murmur. I'd be pretty grumpy too if I lived here and not on an island paradise, I think to myself 

Categories: Conservation, Research, Birds, Volunteering, Nature People, Seabirds


Could this be a new world record: a very old bridled tern is recovered on Cousin

bridled tern flight

The lives of birds are mysteries especially for the adventurous and long-ranging seabirds. There is only so much actual knowledge that you can gain about a species that spends most of its time in the air or at sea. Neither place is well suited for human beings. A clever man indeed it was that first thought of ringing birds for scientific purpose; attaching a small, individually numbered metal ring to the leg of a wild bird. His name was Hans Christian Cornelius Mortenson and he began by ringing European Starlings in 1899. Since then the ringing and subsequent recapture of birds has provided a wealth of information on migration, longevity, mortality, population studies, territoriality and feeding behaviour.

Categories: Conservation, Research, Birds


First Seychelles Magpie Robin Chick of 2014

SMR chick 2014

Once one of the most endangered birds in the world, the endemic Magpie Robin is one of the Seychelles most charismatic species. Although conservation management has been very successful for this species and there are now 260 birds across 5 islands it is still a marvel when a chick is born. When you consider how lucky they are to be here and how lucky you are to see them.

Categories: Birds, Wildlife


Moved by Nature

A Volunteer's account of her time on magical Cousin

Cousin vista Lindsey

It’s no secret that the Seychelles and Cousin Island in particular hold a special place in my heart.  When I first came to volunteer on Cousin three years ago, I fell in love with everything about the island (except perhaps the mosquitoes!): the multitude of birds flying over the island at dawn, breathtaking sunsets where the whole sky lights up in various shades of orange, pink and purple, skinks and geckos galore, being able to hear the push and pull of the ocean waves wherever you go on the island and of course, George the giant land tortoise.  So it’s no surprise that when I was given the opportunity to return to Cousin to volunteer for a month, I jumped at it immediately.  Although the magic of the island hasn’t changed much at all, my volunteer experience was quite different this time as it was sea turtle nesting season instead of endless birds.  

Categories: Conservation, Volunteering, Nature People, Wildlife


Between a root and a hard exit

A turtle makes a verrrry poor choice in nesting site

Not here turtle

Relaxing in my house on a Sunday afternoon with a good book and a cup of tea is not an unusual place to find me, nor sadly is it unusual for me to be disturbed from my spot of peace and quiet. Usually however the interruptions come from wardens, volunteers, my work phone ringing or a Seychelles Fody sneaking in to my kitchen. This Sunday however my tranquil afternoon was interrupted by a Hawksbill Turtle.

Categories: Conservation, Nature People, Wildlife


Stowaways in our traps

Fish researchers catch more than fish


Recently, I have been fortunate enough to join team of dedicated researchers investigating the habitats and migratory movements of  commercially valuable fish species within the Marine Protected Area of Cousin Island.

As a part of our daily activities, we have been using two bamboo fishing traps to collect members of the target species for tagging and release to track their range of movement during the spawning season. Naturally, we are unable to limit the fish that enter our trap to just those in the target species so we have had a collection of other species, which are released back into the ocean where they were caught. 

Categories: Research, Marine


A Well Oiled Machine

ray f

In April, 2013, we blogged from Cousin Island about a very successful series of marine monitoring surveys executed around the island in an effort to ascertain the health of the reef system in the Marine Protected Area. We completed over 100 surveys across the period of 1 week of intensive diving. That week went smoothly and over the following few months a comprehensive report was written regarding the findings of the surveys and the health of the reef.

Categories: Marine


The turtles are coming (But not all lay the first time round)

Liam, a volunteer on Cousin describes life on the island

turtle max aliaga

The turtles have arrived. Data collection is underway. Most of them will have been tagged already, so it is a case of reading those tags, measuring the turtle and if possible counting the eggs.

Categories: Conservation, Research, Nature People, Wildlife


There's a crab in the kitchen what am I gonna do?

Liam, a volunteer on Cousin describes life on the island

Liam Cousin

I've been on Cousin Island for a week now and I'm completely in awe of it. It is awesome. I never use the word awesome, because the ubiquitous use of it has completely belittled its purpose and made it really annoying. There's no point saying something is awesome when you're talking about a frozen pizza. In this instance though, I reckon the word is justified.

Categories: Volunteering, Nature People, Wildlife


Turtle season commences

Turtle monitoring

Come September island managers and conservationists all over the Seychelles begin to prepare for the exciting onslaught of the Hawksbill turtle-nesting season. The females start to emerge in September, but nesting begins in earnest in October with a peak throughout November and December. The nesting decreases throughout January and February with the last nest usually recorded early March.

Categories: Conservation, Research, Volunteering, Nature People, Wildlife


A beautiful poem about Cousin Island

by Conservation volunteer Elizabeth Procter


Take me to that windswept porch,
Where birds dance through the waves.
Where sun bursts through the crisp white clouds,
And peace fills up the days.

Categories: Nature People

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