In the Republic of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, postcard landscapes like this co-exist with tourism developments. When photographer Jason Houston captured this quiet moment, to his right a large restaurant perched on the water and to his left street vendors sold fish and drinks along a walk. Photo © Jason Houston

Outtakes: Meeting Locals in the Seychelles

December/January 2017

In May 2016 photographer Jason Houston traveled to the Indian Ocean to capture the culture of conservation and the natural resources of Seychelles for a story in Nature Conservancy magazine. The feature tells how the island nation recently agreed to protect 30 percent of its waters by 2020. For Houston, “The story really was about the amazing place that was worth of all of this effort.”

For nearly three weeks, he bounced around seven of Seychelles’ 115 islands, chatting with locals, tourists and fishermen as the seas swelled nearby. The weather was transitioning from the monsoon to the dry season late that year, causing the seas to be rougher than normal.

At one point Houston and story writer Ginger Strand (who had been seasick part of the trip) rode a zodiac boat out to an island in rough seas. “We were practically getting air on the swells,” Houston says. “Ginger was down in the bottom of the zodiac with all the gear and dry bags. It was like one of those mechanical bull rides.”

Luckily, Houston was able to photograph many of the people and animals that call the islands home. Look for Houston’s photos in the December/January issue of the print magazine and see outtakes from the story below.

Tourism is a key part of Seychelles’ economy. Grandy Fauchette (standing) is a dive master who takes tourists from local resorts out for coastal dives. The water was too rough for Houston to dive that day in May, but typically the water is “surreal,” he says. “It’s incredibly clear and the colors are ridiculous. It’s like any of those postcards you see, and you’re like, ‘There’s no way it looks like that.’” Photo © Jason Houston
Tourism is a key part of Seychelles’ economy. Grandy Fauchette (standing) is a dive master who takes tourists from local resorts out for coastal dives. The water was too rough for Houston to dive that day in May, but typically the water is “surreal,” he says. “It’s incredibly clear and the colors are ridiculous. It’s like any of those postcards you see, and you’re like, ‘There’s no way it looks like that.’” Photo © Jason Houston
This juvenile Aldabra giant tortoise lives in Curieuse Marine National Park in Seychelles. A group of high school students from all over the world staff a program that monitors the tortoises twice a year. The writer Ginger Strand says the friendly tortoises “like a good scratch behind the ear.” Photo © Jason Houston
This juvenile Aldabra giant tortoise lives in Curieuse Marine National Park in Seychelles. A group of high school students from all over the world staff a program that monitors the tortoises twice a year. The writer Ginger Strand says the friendly tortoises “like a good scratch behind the ear.” Photo © Jason Houston
The entire island of Aride is a nature reserve in northern Seychelles where invasive animals have been removed to protect native species there. Because of that, ground-nesting birds like this white-tailed tropicbird are unafraid of visitors. There, “one of the rarest birds in the world, the Seychelles magpie-robin, literally just follows you around because it loves the disturbances in the ground,” Houston says. Photo © Jason Houston
The entire island of Aride is a nature reserve in northern Seychelles where invasive animals have been removed to protect native species there. Because of that, ground-nesting birds like this white-tailed tropicbird are unafraid of visitors. There, “one of the rarest birds in the world, the Seychelles magpie-robin, literally just follows you around because it loves the disturbances in the ground,” Houston says. Photo © Jason Houston
Fishing in Seychelles comes in three “flavors,” Houston says: artisanal fishing, semi-industrial fishing and industrial trawling. Here semi-industrial boats, represented by a local Fishermen and Boat Owners Association, dock at the “old port” in Victoria, Seychelles. These are usually crewed by four people who spend a few days on the water at a time. Photo © Jason Houston
Fishing in Seychelles comes in three “flavors,” Houston says: artisanal fishing, semi-industrial fishing and industrial trawling. Here semi-industrial boats, represented by a local Fishermen and Boat Owners Association, dock at the “old port” in Victoria, Seychelles. These are usually crewed by four people who spend a few days on the water at a time. Photo © Jason Houston
Tuna trawlers, here docked at La Reunion Island, “run up and down the Indian Ocean catching massive amounts of yellowfin,” Houston says. On this boat, men were taking frozen tuna—“like 100-pound rocks”—and loading them into refrigerated containers to take to a nearby cannery. Photo © Jason Houston
Tuna trawlers, here docked at La Reunion Island, “run up and down the Indian Ocean catching massive amounts of yellowfin,” Houston says. On this boat, men were taking frozen tuna—“like 100-pound rocks”—and loading them into refrigerated containers to take to a nearby cannery. Photo © Jason Houston
Fishermen on semi-industrial boats unload red snapper and other bottom-feeder fish at Victoria’s old port. They’re part of the Fishermen and Boat Owners Association, which advocates for semi-industrial fishing by offering a sustainability label. “They are catching these fish hook and line, which is a more sustainable way of fishing [than trawling] and increases the value of the fish,” Houston says. Photo © Jason Houston
Fishermen on semi-industrial boats unload red snapper and other bottom-feeder fish at Victoria’s old port. They’re part of the Fishermen and Boat Owners Association, which advocates for semi-industrial fishing by offering a sustainability label. “They are catching these fish hook and line, which is a more sustainable way of fishing [than trawling] and increases the value of the fish,” Houston says. Photo © Jason Houston
Victoria Market, Houston says, was bustling and dynamic every day of the week. There fishermen, like the man on the left, load their fish onto stands in the morning. “The connection to local fresh fish is just part of Seychelles culture,” Houston says. Local and artisanal fishing is even written into the country’s constitution. Photo © Jason Houston
Victoria Market, Houston says, was bustling and dynamic every day of the week. There fishermen, like the man on the left, load their fish onto stands in the morning. “The connection to local fresh fish is just part of Seychelles culture,” Houston says. Local and artisanal fishing is even written into the country’s constitution. Photo © Jason Houston

— NCM

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