A couple revealed how they have sold their family home to raise enough money to move to the Seychelles and set up an environmental charity.
Karolina and Barry Seath, 47, are leaving Putney, south-west London, for Moyenne Island, a tiny 400m-long island nature reserve off the north coast of Mahé.
The intrepid couple are planning to set up a coral farm to repopulate the reef which has been left barren as a result of climate change and human actions.
They are taking their daughters Georgina, 11, and Josephine, seven, and will live on the larger island of Mahé, where the girls will be able to attend school.
Karolina and Barry Seath, 47, are leaving Putney, south-west London, for Moyenne Island, a tiny 400m-long island nature reserve off the north coast of Mahé. Pictured, the couple on holiday with their daughters Georgina, 11, and Josephine, seven, who are also moving
The intrepid couple are planning to set up a coral farm off the coast of Moyenne, pictured, to repopulate the reef which has been left barren as a result of climate change and human action
Barry, a former recruitment consultant and policeman, said: ‘We are just a normal husband, wife, and two kids, living the sort of life that most others do.
‘But we both felt the need to make a positive change for ourselves, our children and the world we had largely taken for granted.
‘So we have sold our home and parted company with most of our worldly possessions.’
Barry has spent more than 15 years running a London recruitment firm but will now work full time as a volunteer for his family’s charity, Coral Reef Conservation UK. Karolina, 37, who is originally from Poland, will manage the charity’s social media presence.
The couple, who have saved enough money to support the family for two years, will also divide responsibilities including offering educational tours to tourists and local school children.
Speaking on the move, Josephine said: ‘I’ll miss my friends, but I’m really looking forward to seeing lots of different animals and doing lots of snorkelling and helping my dad look after the coral.’
Sisters Georgina, 11, and Josephine, seven, who will travel 15 minutes by boat to attend school on another island. Pictured, the schoolgirls jump for joy on a family holiday
Georgina wants to learn to dive to assist the project, and added: ‘I’m really excited to have this opportunity to move abroad and learn more about the world. I hope we can make a real difference.’
Barry explained they were spurred into action after witnessing the damage to the coral reef first-hand on family holidays to the Seychelles.
‘Every time we visited we noticed the coral was getting worse and worse,’ he said.
‘All the tourists say the same thing. They love the beaches, but are really disappointed with the coral. They expect these lush coral reefs, but what they actually find is lots of coral rubble.’
Coronavirus has devastated the Seychelles’ economy. The tourism sector, which represents around 50 per cent of the country’s GDP, has effectively frozen.
The family hopes that replenishing the coral reefs will help boost future visitor numbers to the country. They were due to fly out at the end of August and are hoping flights will return to normal in time for them to depart as planned.
In 2012 Moyenne was designated the world’s smallest National Park after its only inhabitant, British expat Brendon Grimshaw, died. Pictured, the sign greeting visitors to the island
The coral farm will be only the second in the world, with the first being on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.
How do coral farms work?
In order to produce the coral at scale, the team plans to harness the latest techniques in ‘micro-fragmentation’ – which can dramatically increase growth rates far beyond what is normally achievable naturally.
The process involves cutting an individual coral into small pieces which then stimulates their growth rates – much like how skin grows over a cut.
The corals will be grown in temperature-controlled tanks for up to nine months, before being replanted in the local reefs.
Whilst in the tanks, the corals will also be exposed to warmer temperatures, enabling them to adapt at a young age to the ever-increasing sea temperatures they will face when returned back into their natural habitat.
Building the farm is scheduled to take just three months with all the equipment, including tanks, chillers, filters and pipework, costing £25,000.
Once complete it will be the first large-scale, land-based coral farm in the Indian Ocean. They aim to grow around 10,000 corals a year.
A diverse range of corals will be grown and then replanted in the local reefs. This will ensure the biodiversity of the reefs are maintained and begin to replenish the estimated 250,000 individual corals that have already been lost in the seas and reefs in the Seychelles archipelago.
Barry said: ‘It’s not going to change things overnight and will take a lot of work, but as we scale up operations, we expect to have a major and positive impact on the coral reefs in the area.’
In 2012 Moyenne was designated the world’s smallest National Park after its only inhabitant, British expat Brendon Grimshaw, died.
Mr Grimshaw, a former newspaper editor, bought the island for just £8,000 in 1962 and lived there for four decades until his death.
The conservationist transformed the island by planting thousands of trees and introducing giant tortoises that still roam the island to this day.
Barry added: ‘The island has an amazing history. There are stories of hotel groups and rich individuals wanting to buy the island from Brendon.
‘They told him he could just name his price, but he refused every time. He didn’t want it to be developed.
‘We hope to honour Brendan’s legacy by using the island as the venue of our first coral farm.’