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Zerb Lanmer – Seagrass gets officially recognised in Creole language |01 March 2022

Seagrass – a flowering marine plant, meadows of which make up one of our critical coastal wetlands has officially been recognised in the creole language.

Zerb Lanmer’ and ‘Gomon Zerb’ are the official names which seagrass in general will be referred to when spoken in Seychelles’ native tongue, Seychellois Creole.

The announcement was made yesterday by the Seychelles Conservation & Climate Adaptation Trust

(SeyCCAT) to coincide with the start of March which is the dedicated seagrass awareness month in many parts of the world, including Seychelles.


Official integration of seagrass in Seychellois Creole language

In 2021, SeyCCAT, in collaboration with the Lakademi Kreol Sesel, launched a national campaign to identify official Creole words and terms for seagrass and its five lifeforms. The exercise was part of the Coastal Wetlands and Climate Change project’s activities to raise awareness on seagrass in the country. The project which started in 2020 had two components; the science, which included determining the coverage and carbon storage capacity of Seychelles’ seagrasses and secondly, tackling some of the setbacks such as low human resource capacity and little understanding by the general public and business community of the economic value and importance of seagrass ecosystems.

The population at large was targeted to participate in the process through social media posts, dedicated radio programmes and website alerts. The fishing community played a central role in outreach efforts given they are at the forefront of the country’s marine landscape and are familiar with seagrass habitats. SeyCCAT collaborated with district administrators on mainland Mahé, Praslin and La Digue to engage with fishermen given restrictions of movement at the time due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Data collected in the process showed that there were words and terms already being used in reference to seagrass meadows and its lifeforms. Existing names and proposed ‘new’ names were submitted to an Emerald committee, the make-up of which included scientists and linguists, to specifically advise on the suggestions and to compile a short-list for the Lakademi Kreol Sesel for a final decision.


The rationale

Seagrass has graced headlines in the local media numerous times in the past year, most notably for its inclusion in the country’s National Determined Contribution (NDC) announcement in July 2021 where the government pronounced its ambition to protect and manage all of its seagrass habitats by 2030. In line with this commitment, a mapping exercise started last October to determine the locations of seagrass meadows, the extent of the area they occupy and to determine the seagrass species we have and the density and growth form of each species we have. Data from the seagrass mapping exercise will be used to calculate how much carbon the meadows take in and store, information which is vital for our climate change policy and future seagrass-related ventures.

Seychelles’ seagrass has indeed come a long way. Its elevated status in Seychelles is in line with a growing global recognition that nature conservation plays a central role in tackling climate change, both from mitigation and adaptation fronts. Our understanding of the services they render from sustaining biodiversity to supporting livelihoods and removing carbon dioxide from our waters and atmosphere is crucial so that community engagement and commitment can be relied on to support political and scientific efforts in protecting and managing our seagrass meadows.

The official names for seagrass and its five lifeforms in Seychellois Creole are:

Seagrass (General) – Zerb lanmer / Gomon Zerb

Enhalus - Gomon gran fey/ Gomon zerb gran fey

Thalassia, Cymodocea, e Halodule ‒ Gomon torti/ Gomon zerb torti

Thalassodendron Gomon zerb levantay

Syringodium - Gomon zerb sed/ Gomon spageti

Halophila ‒ Lerb lanmer papiyon/ Lerb lanmer zorey lapen

These official words and terms, along with their definitions, will be included in the next edition of the Creole dictionary.


Contributed by SeyCCAT



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