Wednesday, October 27, 2010

27/10/10 Sharkweek!

The last couple of months of the year in the Seychelles is traditionally the time when a number of shark species give birth to their young and the juvenile sharks can be seen in the shallow waters surrounding the islands.

Sharks have had an extremely bad press over the years and undeservedly so. Most species are extremely shy and will do anything they can to avoid contact with humans. As shark numbers collapse around the world we are extremely fortunate here in the Seychelles that we have a number of different species that can still be seen in local waters. You ask any diver what is top of their list of things to see underwater and most of them will tell you it is sharks.

Over on Curieuse staff and volunteers have noticed the arrival of lemon sharks with the juveniles swimming close to shore in shallow water, allowing you to get up close to them.

On Saturday a number of the volunteers headed to the Marianne Islands in search of a different species of shark and were rewarded fifteen minutes into the dive by the site of twenty grey reef sharks. This dive site has become famous within the Seychelles for this particular species and at certain times of the year they can school in numbers of up to 150 animals!

Grey Reef Sharks congregate in the shallows around the Marianne Islands.

Following the dive at Marianne some of the volunteers decided to undertake a night dive close to the island of La Digue and on this occasion came face to face with a 2.5m guitar shark! Completely harmless these beautiful creatures scour the seabed at night for prey amongst the sand.

Not to be outdone, over on Mahe staff and volunteers went for a snorkel to one of our local dive sites in the hope of seeing a shark or two. Once again we were not disappointed spotting a couple of whitetip reef sharks swimming amongst the granitic boulders. The icing on the cake was discovering a 2m nurse shark (picture left) lying sleepily on the seabed within Baie Ternay. She allowed us to approach closely and take a few photos before we left her to rest in peace.

All of us here at GVI feel so privileged to be able to dive and snorkel with these top predators that are an integral part of the marine ecosystem. We hope as more people become aware of the plight facing sharks globally that it is not too late to save these species from the brink of extinction.