One of the winning paintings on display at the conclusion of this year's SUBIOS festival
Photo: Chris Johnson
November 10, 2002
SUBIOS Underwater Festival
This is Genevieve Johnson speaking to you from the Odyssey in the Seychelles.
The Odyssey crew was recently in port for SUBIOS (Sub Indian Ocean Seychelles), an annual festival celebrating the rich and diverse marine life in Seychelles waters. SUBIOS is an underwater festival that was started in 1989 by two local dive professionals. It has since grown to become an annual, week-long festival that runs free activities and presentations around the country. In the year leading up to the festival, the Ministries of Environment and Education encourage curriculum-based activities aimed directly at school children, as well as ocean awareness campaigns that target the local community. The primary mission of SUBIOS is to celebrate the underwater realm while inspiring the Seychellois about the importance of the marine world and their role in protecting marine life.
On the final evening of the festival, the work that school children have done is put on public display and government officials give out awards in recognition of the importance of the best of it. The crew went to awards night. We were deeply impressed by the quality of what we saw and the level of understanding the children have about the many threats to their marine environment, and about the urgent steps needed to save their natural ocean heritage.
This year the theme of SUBIOS was sharks. Sharks face a bleak future here in the Seychelles, just as they do everywhere. They are taken as by-catch in tuna purse seiners and are targeted by fisherman for their valuable fins which are dried and sold (sometimes for their weight in gold) for use in the largely oriental shark fin soup trade.
School children paint an underwater scene on a wall on a public street as part of the SUBIOS festival.
Photo: Chris Johnson
Sometimes it takes the honesty of a child to point out what adults know is happening yet choose to ignore in their daily lives. For most of us the unsustainable slaughter of the world's shark populations is regrettable. We may think about it from time to time; we may even express genuine concern for the continued existence of these animals, but all too often apathy soon takes over-sometimes because we think to ourselves: "What can I do anyway'?
But the primary and secondary school children of the Seychelles are deeply concerned about the demise of these oceanic predators and are not willing to stand by and watch them disappear. They have taken a stand together. They have spent the past year voicing their opinions through storytelling, poetry, art and photography. Their work addresses the issues of sustainability, the moral obligations of humans and the negative impacts of overfishing. Read the selected poem, story and listen to a song written an sung by the children of the Seychelles.
The following is an excerpt from "Lets Save Them"
Song - Written and Sung by Secondary School students in the Seychelles
At the closing ceremony of this year's festival, the theme for next year's festival was announced. To the delight of the crew the focus
will be dolphins - one of the many species here facing an uncertain future as a result of human impacts. In the long term, the key to
protecting the marine environment is education. If only a few children can be inspired to maintain their fascination for the oceans,
it will be they who change the world.
The following are two more winning entries to the SUBIOS festival read by Roger Payne's wife, actress Lisa Harrow.
Sharks were the focus of this year's festival. Tourists contribute to the demand for sharks by purchasing
body parts, such as jaws, for souveniers.
Photo: Chris Johnson
THOUGHTS OF A SHARK
As I watched another of my kind
Being hauled into a wretched boat,
I think of the future that I will never see,
I think of how many of my kind are done for like me
My only future now is on a plate somewhere.
And my teeth shall be sold as a necklace
Somewhere in the market place
You don't know my pain
All you care about is your own gain.
I have survived from the time of the dinosaurs
But now even my immediate future looks bleak
Soon my kind will be no more
We shall be just another lost treasure of this world.
Only heard about, never seen
A legend that once lived.
Written by a primary school child in the Seychelles
And this is a story by another primary school child of the Seychelles
THE UNSEEN TEARS OF A SHARK
"It's a lovely day' I cried, as we swam across the seabed of seaweeds and glistening corals. "Why don't we play hide and seek'? suggested my mother. All of us agreed. My father, my two sisters and I went to hide while my mother did the counting. I swam behind a big colourful coral , where I waited for my mother to find me. Suddenly after some time I heard a terrible cry. It sounded like my mother but I thought she was just trying to scare us. I waited for some time behind the coral but no one seemed to come. Suddenly I got the smell of blood. I followed the small to where we had last left my mother. I looked down and saw my mother lying helplessly on the seabed, crying in pain, for her dorsal fin had been cut off. The tears that continued to fill my eyes were washed away by the mute waters of the ocean. Then I heard the last cry and she slipped away into an everlasting silence, a silence from which there was no return. I then heard my father and my sisters crying in agony. There were several men tying them up, snipping off their fins and throwing their helpless bodies into the sea. I know our cries, pain and tears go unnoticed by men. What have we done to them? We prevent diseases from spreading by eating up the sick fish and stabilizing the marine ecosystem. Why are men so cruel? Do they want to see our extinction? These horrible memories will always haunt me until the day I meet with the same fate.
Note - The Odyssey crew would like to thank Jeannette Larue of the Ministry of Education in the Seychelles for providing materials submitted by
students for the SUBIOS 2002 Underwater Festival
Log by Genevieve & Chris Johnson