jocara logo
flag banner
blue bar

Places | Seychelles| Cousin Island

Wildlife on Cousin Island
by Casper

One morning in the Seychelles we departed early from Victoria harbor to go to Cousin island which is a special reserve. My parents had already arranged something with the people there because we are contributing to their programs. The arrangement was that we could go on the island for free and get a tour around the island and take photographs of all the wildlife there. Here are some photos of the wildlife that we took.

This photo was taken when we arrived at Cousin island. On the way in we caught two blue Job fish which looked very fierce and angry. They were very tasty, and the cats really liked it too.

When we arrived there and took up a mooring we had lunch while we waited until it was two o’clock. Then we got picked up by the head warden and he took us to the beach in a quite thrilling way: first he lined us up so that we were pointed directly towards the beach, about a hundred meters off. Then he drove at full speed (probably) at the beach and then at the last moment before hitting the beach he lifted up the outboard and we skidded halfway up the beach before we came to a halt. There were about a dozen wardens on the beach all in blue T-shirts. One of the wardens came up to us and said that she would be our guide. Her name was Catherina. We hadn’t yet started the tour when I spotted a Warbler (a small greyish bird) right when Catherina was talking about how rare they were. When the island was still a coconut plantation the Warbler was getting rarer and rarer, at one point there were only about 30 Warblers left in the world! The Warbler is an endemic species which means that it is only found in the Seychelles. Then we started the tour and we hadn’t yet walked five meters when we saw birds all over the trees.

Lesser Noddy

This bird is the lesser Noddy. They are called Noddy because they like to nod a lot. These birds are found all over the island and nesting in (almost) every tree. A lot of the Noddies we saw had already built a nest out of leaves of the Pisonia tree and their own shit so that it doesn’t blow away. They lay only one egg. These Noddies have greatly populated the islands, there are about 300,000 pairs of them found in the Seychelles. These birds are seabirds and they feed on small fish and small squid.

Fairy Tern

This bird is a young fairy tern. The fairy tern has a blue beak when it is adult. They are less common than the Noddy on Cousin. These birds live also on Mahe, the biggest most populated island, where they are killed by introduced rats. They have a funny way of laying their eggs and breeding their chicks.This bird is a young fairy tern. The fairy tern has a blue beak when it is adult. They are less common than the Noddy on Cousin. These birds live also on Mahe, the biggest most populated island, where they are killed by introduced rats. They have a funny way of laying their eggs and breeding their chicks.

When the chick hatches out of the egg it clings to the branch with its clawed feet. The parents then feed the chick fish which they carry crossways in their beak.


The ground is also covered with skinks that are crawling all over the place, on rocks, the ground, under leaves, on branches and almost under your shoe. So we had to be very careful not to step on them when we walked through the park. There are two kinds of skinks, one of them is bigger and looks gross, though they have a nice bronze colour. On Cousin there is only one kind of bird that predates on the small skinks, that’s why there’re so many.

Giant Tortoise

While Catherina was explaining all this to us a giant tortoise crept up behind us which we were very surprised to see because we must have just walked right past it. These great animals are quite hard to spot. It sounds silly but they are really quite hard to spot like elephants in elephant-grass. This tortoise was called George. George was the oldest biggest heaviest tortoise of all the 36 on the island. As you can see George wasn’t very shy at all. Catherina told us that they can feel when you touch their shell because their shell is just like your fingernail. The tortoises on Cousin are quite tame and they really like to have a scratch on their leg or under their neck. You can tell if they are male of female by checking if their back is smooth or wobbly. If it is smooth it is a female. The male shell is concave on the bottom, so that he doesn’t slide off when he’s mating with a female.


This is a picture of the fruit that grows on one of the trees called Ochrosia. It starts off green, then turns yellow (and might get eaten by bats) then falls to the ground and turns into the brown part of the picture. The fruit on the inside is all fibrous, and in the center there is a seed. These fruits smell quite nice. Catherina told us that they tried eating it but it wasn’t any good. But the tortoises think it’s good.
This picture shows Catherina standing next to the Ochrosia tree. This special tree is used for a medical purpose. They take off the bark and put it in water and leave it overnight. The next morning it’s ready to drink and it helps the blood circulation. She said it is also used to induce abortion.

Birds infested with seeds

This bird here on the picture is a lesser Noddy which has sticky thorn like seeds stuck all over it’s wings and head. These seeds get there because they grow on trees which Noddies sit on. It is very sad to see a bird covered with these seeds. So Alex and Catherina caught this seed infested bird to pull the seeds out of the feathers. If these seeds stay in too long the bird dies because it can’t fly and then it can’t catch any fish, so it will starve. As you can see, Catherina has caught it by it’s neck like a fork so that the bird can’t snap at her fingers. The Tropicbird also gets it’s wings covered with these seeds because of the way it lands. It lands by gliding down and kind of crashes through the undergrowth. With tropicbirds you have to be very careful because their beak is like a saw.


Tropicbirds are very beautiful because they have these very long tails which only grow when it is an adult. They also have a very bright yellow beak (with some it isn’t that bright). Catherina tells us that there is no way of seeing if it’s male or female except if you take a blood sample and send it to a university in Holland to be analyzed. These birds also have a very strange way of bringing up their young. First they lay an egg on the ground (only on predator free islands) and wait for it to hatch. When it hatches the parents feed the chick with fish until it is bigger and fatter than themselves and then abandon it. The chick becomes so hungry that it has to go to the sea to get some fish.

This chick is still very young because it has all these fluffy white feathers everywhere. It has just began to grow some adult feathers. It hasn’t got a yellow beak yet either.
This chick is a bit older and most of it’s fluffy fur is gone. There are about 3,000 pairs of these birds populating the islands of Seychelles. They are very beautiful when they fly, because the turquoise water reflects the sea onto their wings, they look blueish.


This is the Magpie-Robin. A very special bird because it is an endemic species and there are only very few left on the islands of Seychelles. There are 125 birds left on the islands. They like to eat small insects and other invertebrates that live under rocks. One of these magpie-robins kept following us because we were walking in its territory, every magpie-robin has its own territory. Catherina turned over some rocks and the little bird immediately began to pick at the ground where it was exposed to get insects. That is how we got to get it so close for the picture. These bird were once also VERY endangered just like the Seychelles warbler. They say that the magpie-robin has a very beautiful song. It is endangered because it is very vulnerable to predators. Catherina said that if there was one cat on the island the magpie-robin population would go down quite rapidly.

I have learnt a lot when we took our trip on Cousin island, about birds, about tortoises, about plants, about seeds and about the ecosystem. I also really enjoyed the tour around the island.



© JIOQ 2004, 2005

jioq - missionobjectives - crew - historyboatequipment - route - itinerary - places/projects

partners - sponsors - faqcontact us - education - research - awareness - newsletter - chatty log