Friday, April 22, 2011

19/04/2011 Baie Ternay

Located on the nw coast of Mahe the Baie Ternay Marine National Park is only accessible by boat, that is unless you are based at the GVI Seychelles Cap Ternay research base.

The narrow bay consists of seagrass beds and small beaches divided from the deeper reef by a reef crest that breaks the surface at low tide. Back in 1998 the global mass bleaching event destroyed corals within the bay and again in 2004 the reef came under threat from the Tsunami that caused so much destruction on the other side of the Indian Ocean. Yet remarkably, coral diversity and abundance along with its associated marine fauna remains some of the most breathtaking you are likely to see anywhere.

Every snorkel or dive throws up unexpected sights and surprising visitors. The coral reef in the shallows consists of healthy patches of Acropora sp. surrounded by hundreds of brightly coloured reef fish. As the reef gets deeper larger coral colonies such as massive porites are found alongside numerous soft leather corals.

The fish life in Baie Ternay is equally impressive with plentiful butterflyfish and angelfish species. Nowhere else can you can you see such an abundance of groupers and it is not unusual to surface from a dive having counted over ten species.

Baie Ternay is also a great place to see turtles with Hawksbill and Green turtles often found near the reef. From December to February Hawksbills nest on the small beaches in the bay with the hatchlings making an appearance in March and April.

The proximity of Baie Ternay to the stronger currents of the Conception channel means that megafauna can often be seen. Several species of rays are frequently observed as are Bumphead parrotfish, and the occasional nurse or guitarshark.

The shallow waters of the bay act as an ideal nursery for eaglerays and juvenile whitetip reef sharks, with the latter often seen in groups of two or three individuals resting under coral bommies.

From August to October it is the really big stuff that visits. Whalesharks regularly congregate in the mouth of the bay near the lighthouse and are often accompanied by manta rays that can remain for days at a time.

Baie Ternay truly is a magical place that has it all. For those lucky few of us privileged enough to be living at the GVI Mahe expedition base, Baie Ternay, is our house reef, are training site and our playground.

Eagle Rays and turtles are frequently sighted within the bay.