A highlight of this expedition has been our interaction with the Seychellois people. I love the Seychellois—there is a sense of peaceful energy and of being at ease with nature. At the start of our expedition on the main island of Mahé we joined beautiful, experienced fishermen at Beau Vallon working their trade as beach seine netters. We sailed with highly skilled fishing boat owners to handline for bourzwa and had wonderful boisterous exchanges with stall holders in the colorful, fragrant Victoria market.
The Seychelles inner islands are the oldest oceanic islands in the world: 65 million years ago when the Indian plate separated from Madagascar, the beautiful iconic granite islands that make up the inner island archipelago were left behind in glorious isolation. The powerful connections that I had with the Seychellois on Mahé felt heavily influenced by the undeniable majesty of them being a part of these ancient islands—a wonderful thing to experience.
So it stands to reason that here at Aldabra—a much younger raised coral atoll at a mere 125,000 years old—our powerful connections are all influenced by the younger Seychellois.
The field research station here is permanently staffed by students and newly qualified specialists. They accompany us on every dive and all landings, helping to guide us, share their extensive local knowledge, and make sure that we stick to the understandably strict environmental regulations. All well educated and passionate about the ocean, they are very good divers, boat handlers, field researchers, cooks, mechanics, and more. One look at them and you know that the future of the Seychellois ocean is in very good hands!
With future generations in mind we are keen to record the abundant juvenile marine life that Aldabra is bursting with. The young blacktip reef sharks are especially beautiful and are easily noticeable as we often see them in the shallows at low tide.
When we walk ashore we are often accompanied by a few of them—it’s a bit like being accompanied by a dog on a beach walk. But unless you are used to being around sharks, there is still that uncertainty that people have when up close and personal with an apex predator.
We dive with full grown adult sharks most days and so we are relaxed with these little ones—but it’s not so easy if you are a cameraman and get caught unaware. I think Neil made the shark’s day as one little touch made him run for the high ground. I could almost see the shark puff up with pride!
This expedition is led by National Geographic in collaboration with the Seychelles Island Foundation (SIF), the Island Conservation Society (ICS), the Islands Development Company (IDC) and the Waitt Foundation.
Thanks to Pristine Seas sponsors Blancpain and Davidoff Cool Water.