Changing Planet

Feeling the Ocean’s Beating Heart

Divers descend along a mini mountain of coral during the Pristine Seas: Seychelles expedition. (Photo by Manu San Felix)

In one single heartbeat, one immeasurably powerful pulse, the Indian Ocean has changed my life: On this expedition I had the most moving and beautiful dive.

Moving—because we were riding the high-speed incoming spring tide that courses through Grande Passe, the main pass from the open sea into the Aldabra lagoon. At the turn of the tide the whole of the Indian Ocean floods into the lagoon at over 5 knots (6mph). It’s an irresistible force—once we jumped off the boat we were flying! The bottom of the pass is 75 feet deep and fist-sized rocks are rolling with the current—how’s that for power?

Beautiful—because when we left the exciting but scoured-of-all-life bottom and ascended to explore the vertical walls of the pass we discovered they are almost 100 percent covered with pristine hard and soft coral. They are literally bursting with color and texture—that angled ascent as we rocketed past the first sight of the wall was an extraordinary contrast. The anemones were almost unrecognizable as they lay flattened to the current. Schools of hundreds of parrot-fish, huge humphead wrasse, rockfish, turtles, grouper, clown fish, trigger fish, fusiliers, blacktip and grey reef sharks, all flying in formation with us, breaking away and rejoining us in spectacular moves.

(Photo by Manu San Felix)
Grouper followed us curiously on nearly every dive. (Photo by Manu San Felix)

The ocean’s heart beats at each change of the tide and to experience that life-giving pulse at Aldabra together as the Pristine Seas team was remarkable, joyous, and incredibly moving—in all senses of the word!

This adventurous, exhilarating hour at the very heart of our beating ocean was the most perfect way for us to finish the 260 dives of our successful Pristine Seas expedition in the Seychelles. Our science results, film, and images will add to the knowledge base of these remote, rarely studied, and nearly untouched islands in support of the Seychellois government’s world-leading decision to build conservation, growth, and sustainability as a blue economy. The future for Seychelles is as beautifully blue as the ocean here!

Fallen leaves dance in the wake of a barracuda. (Photo by Manu San Felix)
Fallen leaves dance in the wake of a barracuda in the Seychelles. (Photo by Manu San Felix)

Read All Pristine Seas: Seychelles Posts

Related News: Pitcairn Islands Become World’s Largest Single Marine Reserve

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.

Paul Rose is an ardent explorer, television presenter, journalist, author, and Vice President of the Royal Geographical Society, and an Expedition Leader on the Pristine Seas team.
  • Melissa Leake

    I would love to be able to explore the ocean floor like that! Very awesome photographs! I’ve always been fascinated by what’s in the ocean! Thanks for sharing!

  • LouAnne Johnson

    To experiance diving into there neighborhood … a speechless event….it is expressed by looking ….a calmness comes over you…sometimes I cry….cause my heart is so open to whatever I’m seeing…its like an old friend…I’m easily humbled by the wildlife I see…have a great day…Diver LouAnne Johnson

About the Blog

Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

Opinions are those of the blogger and/or the blogger’s organization, and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Posters of blogs and comments are required to observe National Geographic’s community rules and other terms of service.

Voices director: David Braun (

Social Media