Looking for a special one-of-a-kind last-minute Christmas gift? Why not adopt a terrapin or turtle in Seychelles, helping a local society fund its monitoring and restoration activities?
The Marine Conservation Society Seychelles (MCSS) is allowing anyone interested to adopt a terrapin or a turtle, where, for the cost of $33 and $44 respectively, one can adopt and give a name of choice to a shelly friend.
Though you will not be able to take the terrapin or turtle home as a pet, the adopter will receive an adoption certificate and photographic updates on when the reptile friend is encountered again. An e-mail containing a thank you letter is also sent to the person.
Terrapins are small species of turtles that spend their time both on land and in fresh or brackish water. They have a shell length of up to 30 centimetres.
The 115-island-archipelago in the western Indian Ocean is home to three types of terrapin -- the Seychelles Black Mud Terrapin, the Seychelles Yellow-bellied Mud Terrapin and the Seychelles Terrapin.
Locally known as 'torti soupap', terrapins are believed to have been introduced in Seychelles from the African continent or the neighbouring island of Madagascar as a source of food for slaves. In time, due to predators, lack of habitat and possibly pollution, their numbers have been dropping on most of the islands.
The Marine Conservation Society has had adoption programmes for many years focusing primarily on whale sharks and turtles. This was expanded to corals in 2017. The programme received a major boost when it became feasible to provide an online payment through PayPal in November 2018.
To adopt a shelly friend - be it a terrapin or turtle - simply follow the link to MCSS website and make payments through PayPal.
Money collected through the adoptions of any of these animals is used to fund further terrapin and turtle monitoring projects, as well as coral rearing activities.
"People who wish to adopt a coral may adopt one from either our coral tank nurseries at Fishermen's Cove or our underwater rope nurseries at Hilton Northolme. If the adoption occurs in person, one can personally choose the coral they wish to adopt," said Rabia Somers, a scientific coordinator at MCSS.
If adopters are not able to come and choose their coral in person, an electronic coral catalogue will be sent from which the people are able to choose the coral they wish to adopt.
She added that, as with the terrapin and turtle adoption, the person will receive a hard copy adoption certificate which will contain information on who adopted the coral, the given name to the coral, the coral number and the date of the adoption.
"This will then be followed an email containing an online version of the coral adoption certificate, along with a picture of the chosen adopted coral, and a fact sheet regarding corals and coral restoration," explained Somers.
An update about the coral will be sent to the adopter every six months. Once the coral is transplanted, the adopter will be informed and will be sent a GPS location of where it has been transferred.
"The purpose of the coral adoption scheme is to support our coral restoration conservation efforts. The money goes into ensuring that our coral restoration efforts are maintained, by allowing us to buy new equipment and build new coral nurseries when needed as well as improve our overall coral restoration techniques and our capacity to grow and transplant corals," said Somers.