The water was gin-clear and vibrant; the bottom a mixture of rock-strewn reef and littered boulders adorned with coral colonies, while sea fans, soft corals and sea anemones quivered as the Indian Ocean swells meandered over them.
An ideal destination for scuba diving, snorkeling and underwater photography.
Fields of delicate fire corals grew amongst the boulders and everywhere there were fish … huge schools of fish, above, below, around and about; snappers, fusiliers, sweetlips, butterflyfish, angelfish, wrasses, squirrelfish, and trevally.
Every aspect was a treasure trove of marine life.
( photo: Neville Coleman)
“The water was gin-clear and vibrant; the bottom a mixture of rock-strewn reef and littered boulders adorned with coral colonies, while sea fans, soft corals and sea anemones quivered as the Indian Ocean swells meandered over them.
Fields of delicate fire corals grew amongst the boulders and everywhere there were fish … huge schools of fish, above, below, around and about; snappers, fusiliers, snappers, sweetlips, snappers, butterflyfish, snappers, angelfish, snappers, wrasses, snappers, squirrelfish, snappers, trevally and … snappers.
Beautiful schools of tame photogenic sweetlips. There were certainly more snappers than I’d ever seen at one dive site the world around.
( Photo: Neville Coleman)
At the fish cleaner stations beneath ledges and in caves, it was a sight that would put any multiple billing medical doctor to shame. Schools moved into cleaner stations en masse.
How the cleaner wrasse could keep track of who had and who hadn’t been cleaned, was way beyond this underwater naturalist’s powers of observation.
Schools of sweetlips eased beneath ledges displacing the night time squirrelfish in residence and sending them into their nooks and crannies.
The cave walls were masses of colour, with brightly-hued sponges, ascidians, corals, soft corals and bryozoans all competing for space, while shrimps, molluscs, flatworms and nudibranchs went about their daily business of survival, seemingly oblivious to my presence.
Every dive I experienced was a new discovery for me, and as it turned out, many of my new discoveries, were also new discoveries for science, with several new species and new records being established for the Indian Ocean.”
Situated some 1600 km off the east African coast, more or less opposite Mombassa, the Seychelles is comprised of some 115 islands (granitic and coral).
( photo: Neville Coleman)
The granitic islands are not volcanic and appear to be the peaks of underwater mountains rising up from an underwater plateau which has parted from the African mainland millions of years ago. The main islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue are granite based with fringing coral reefs and sandy sea floor around them. Many of the outer islands are coral cays.
With around 101 species of stony corals making up the coral reefs and over 920 species of fish swimming in the crystal clear waters the Seychelles is an underwater paradise. Although most of the fish are found throughout the Indo-Pacific, four per cent of species are endemic to the Seychelles region.
( photo: Neville Coleman)
Besides fishes, the Seychelles have an extremely rich marine invertebrate fauna with thousands of species of molluscs (including over 85 nudibranchs) 350 cnidarians, 200 worms, 750 crustaceans, around 90 echinoderms and at least 38 ascidians.
The Seychelles waters play host to four species of sea turtles including green turtles and hawksbill turtles. Both have small nesting populations and efforts have been made to preserve these, but it is a difficult job.
The giant leatherback turtle and the loggerhead turtle are also observed on occasion but they do not breed in the Seychelles.
Marine mammals in the form of bottlenose dolphins, are often seen hunting in groups or swimming in the bow waves of boats.
(Photo: Neville Coleman)
Sperm whales are encountered around the outer islands as well as short fin pilot whales. Over 43 species of marine mammals are known to exist in the Indian Ocean sanctuary, the proposal was originally made to the International Whaling Commission by the Seychelles Government.
There are dozens of good snorkelling areas in Beau Vallon Bay. Many of these are directly out from the major hotels. Both La Digue and Praslin have excellent snorkelling as well as glass bottom boats.
All creatures in the waters should be respected and all the marine National parks are no-take zones, with no collecting or souveniring.
St Anne’s marine National park has glass bottom boat trips and semi-submersibles working out of Victoria. The glass bottom boats have snorkelling equipment but it is better to have your own. Baie Ternay Marine National Park is visited by glass bottom boats and dive boats.
( Photo: Neville Coleman)
The Seychelles has some of the most fascinating and fantastic dive sites in the world. Out in the Seychelles bank the vast submerged mountain range has a myriad fish species and spectacular visuals, with 40 metre visibility and never enough time to take it all in.
( photo: Neville Coleman)
Huge granite boulders, piled up or on their own are part of the varied sites, Mahé and Praslin offers excellent diving at every site. There are brilliant wrecks and reefs, vast areas where fire corals bristle from the bottom and everywhere you look there are fish in uncountable numbers.
Huge schools of Madras snappers wheel and turn and don’t even disperse when divers swim close.
To me, every dive was an event, there was just so much to see. Sites such as Grouper Point, Brissare Rocks, Conception Island and Whale Rock were brilliant, and even at the shallow water sites such as “Chuckles” and “The Aquarium”, I found exceptional species. Most dive sites vary between 10 and 30 metres depth and each one I visited was different in topography and in species.
The largest raised atoll in the world Aldabra and the rest of its group of islands including Assumption, Cosmoledo and Astove belong to the Republic of the Seychelles and no account of this country would be complete without some reference to its amazing wildlife.
(photo: Neville Coleman)
The atoll is 35 kilometres long and 14 kilometres wide with a total land area of 140 square kilometres and is situated on top of a submarine volcanic pinnacle. Fossils have been found of crocodiles, giant tortoises and iguanas though only the giant tortoises survive today.
Mangroves are represented by the genera Rhizophora, Bruguiera and Ceriops and on the more even ground there are large areas of grass which appears as mown.
These are the grazing grounds of thousands of giant land tortoises. Aldabra is the last stronghold of the giant land tortoise with over 150,000 living on this atoll.
Saved by the atoll’s isolation and the difficulty for ships to land, this population represents the largest number in the world.
The giant tortoises are mostly vegetarians. They can live to the ripe old age of 100 years or more and are excellent swimmers. Experts agree that they remained unchanged for over 200 million years.
Neville Coleman's diving expeditions, fauna surveys, photographic fauna surveys and marine life identification courses include every major group of marine life.
Neville Coleman's expertise in marine life identification extends to the identification of Algae, Sea Grass, Forams, Sponges, Stony Corals, Soft Corals, Sea Anemones, Sea Jellies, Zoanthids, Corallimorphs, Black Corals, Flatworms, Segmented Worms, Crustaceans, Barnacles, Shrimps, Rock Lobsters, Hermit Crabs, Squat Lobsters, Molluscs, Chitons, Univalves, Bivalves, Cephalopods, Octopus, Cuttlefish, Squid, Opisthobranchs, Nudibranchs, Sea Slugs, Bryozoans, Sea Mosses, Echinoderms, Sea Stars, Feather Stars, Brittle Stars, Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers, Ascidians/Sea Squirts, Marine Fish, Sharks, Marine Reptiles, and Marine Mammals, all found in the waters around the Seychelles Islands.
( Copyright Neville Coleman)
Seychelles Information Guide
Air lines operate various schedules and one can fly to the Seychelles on most days of the week. Flights are available direct from Europe, from Africa and Mauritius. Access from Australia is by way of Singapore.
Passports are mandatory but there are no visas needed. Terms of entry require an onward or return ticket, booked accommodation and sufficient money to afford your stay. There is a visitorÕs permit to one month (which can be extended depending on the circumstances). There is no entry fee but a departure fee is mandatory and this is usually added to the price of the ticket when purchased.
Normal health requirements and preventions can be applied as visiting any similar country. There is no malaria on the islands but a mosquito borne flu-like virus which causes joint pain for months on end is present (Chikungunya virus) and precautions should be taken.
Most businesses open from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m. and many are closed on Sundays.
On Seychelles the trade winds dictate the seasons. From October to April the north-west trade winds bring warm conditions and rain. The south-east trades blow stronger but provide cooler, drier conditions. The Doldrums which occur between the onset of each trade wind change occur between March and April and October to November and provide excellent conditions for diving. July and August are the dry months and the most rain falls in January. When it really rains in the Seychelles one can see cars floating along the main roads and into the culverts. Temperatures range between 24¼C to 31¼C with humidity at 80% plus.
Very casual and lots of bright colours. It is the tropics so wear a hat, sunglasses and 30+ sunscreen.
The electricity is 240V 50HzHz and the plugs are British system with two horizontal flat blades and a perpendicular flat blade for earthing. All type plugs are available at all major airport tax-free shops.
Around 79,330 Seychellois; a mixture of African, Chinese, Indian and European peoples.
A public bus system is present on Mah? with a smaller version on Praslin. Taxis are available on Mah?, Praslin and La Digue, prices vary for the same distances, so it is best to find out the price first. The roads on Mah? and Praslin are sealed but narrow and there are some very acute bends on those up the mountains.
Air Seychelles has flights out to Dennis Island, to Bird Island, Desroches, Fr?gate and Praslin. There are also helicopters for hire and ferries ply between Mah? and Praslin Islands and there are boats (water taxis) for hire to other places.
Seychelles rupee (SR) is the standard currency and all major credit cards are accepted.
Both French and English are used but I found more people spoke French in the downtown community but understood English.
Mostly Catholic origins with some Anglican. The old church ruins on the tops of the mountains are fascinating to behold.
Copyright Neville Coleman
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