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New Pristine Seas Expedition in Search of Seychelles’ Hidden Wonders

While our main focus is the life underwater, we're still always connected to the people who live in these places above the waves. (Photo by Manu San Felix)
While our main focus is the life underwater, we’re still always connected to the people who live in these places above the waves. (Photo by Manu San Felix)

The Pristine Seas team has traveled to a dozen of the most untouched parts of the ocean, studying marine life and producing films that share our discoveries with the world. Along the way, the leaders of five of these sites have gone on to declare large no-take marine protected areas that ensure these places will retain their historic character and diversity and serve as safe havens where marine life of all kinds can be free from human interference and exploitation.

For our latest expedition, we’re in the Seychelles, an archipelago just north of Madagascar, where a new debt-swap deal has given the government an opportunity to protect their unique marine assets and possibly create the Indian Ocean’s second largest marine reserve.

While diving around Mahé before the expedition heads to the outer islands, the team glimpsed this stunning marble ray through a technicolor swirl of smaller fish.(Photo by Manu San Felix)
While diving around Mahé before the expedition heads to the outer islands, the team glimpsed this stunning marble ray through a technicolor swirl of smaller fish.(Photo by Manu San Felix)

While our main focus is the life underwater, we’re still always connected to the people who live in these places above the waves. Our first experience here made that connection as clear as ever.

A Truly Perfect Moment

Dragging a traditional Seychellois pirogue fishing boat heavily loaded with a seine, or large net, across the beach to the water’s edge is hard manual labor. You know the feeling when seeing people working so hard—our natural instinct is to help. But the fishermen on this beach have done it thousands of times, so I stayed out of the way.

Huge coral like this on the seafloor is a good sign for healthy waters all around. (Photo by Manu San Felix)
Huge coral like this on the seafloor is a good sign for healthy waters all around. (Photo by Manu San Felix)

As I stood back to absorb the moment, though, I immediately caught the eye of the lead fisherman, a powerful, great looking guy, and in that instant I knew it was Uneil, a superkeen young Seychelles Marine Parks employee whom I had worked with here 13 years ago.

After the obvious greeting—“Uneil! I remember you when you were this big!”—we hugged, whooped, and swapped stories of bygone days on Sainte Anne Island, and the world took a beautiful pause; nothing existed except Uneil and I standing on Beau Vallon beach, one of the most spectacular beaches in the world. The warm ocean breeze, the sound of waves breaking on the white sand, and the perfect endless blue of the sky made for a fabulous scene, and being among traditional fishing activity made this a truly perfect moment.

Exposed coral makes for a scenic view, if not a comfortable stroll. (Photo by J. Michael Fay)
Exposed coral makes for a scenic view, if not a comfortable stroll. (Photo by J. Michael Fay)

Guiding Spirit

Meeting Uneil has reconnected me to the Seychellois. They are a people of the ocean and their respect for nature is a spirit that will guide us as we depart from Mahé today and sail 600 miles for the official beginning of our expedition at the remote islands of Assumption, Astove, Cosmoledo, and Aldabra.

Please join our expedition by following our posts here. Our plans are ambitious, the scientific targets are exceptional, and there will be plenty of new discoveries and adventures to come!

Read All Pristine Seas: Seychelles Posts

 

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.

Comments

  1. aditya tripathi
    india
    March 14, 2015, 1:36 am

    thanx paul rose to see us that amazing experiance.after read this article i feel adventures..ADITYA TRIPATHI

  2. Laurent pool
    Hawaii
    March 13, 2015, 6:40 pm

    Thank you for taking care of my home land while I work abroad.

  3. Makhara c Subhash
    Nepal ktm.
    March 13, 2015, 10:37 am

    Very nice, collection picture so I like every one that all…

  4. Manar
    Egypt
    March 13, 2015, 4:12 am

    That’s a very nice article, I felt I was there. I loved how you described the beach Paul, thank you for transporting us there with your words!

  5. Jerry McMullen
    Cedar Falls, Iowa
    March 12, 2015, 4:58 pm

    Nephew Mike ,
    Thanks for all that you do for us, my Grand children and beyond. It means so much more than we can imagine right now

  6. Gill Maskell
    South Africa
    March 12, 2015, 3:10 pm

    They Seychelles is the most incredible archipelago I have ever see. I have been there at least 6 times and had the privilege of diving Aldabra extensively with researches. It’s paradise in every way. The people also soo special