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Sea creatures and snorkellers are safe in the calm lagoon waters of Ilot Maitre Marine Reserve. When it is calm, at high tide, it is a delight to snorkel over the white sand and turtle grass beds to the south of l'Escapade Island Resort. The variety of sea creatures that inhabit this reef-top environment is amazing. There are clusters of sea stars and every single one has it's own kaleidoscope of colors, red, blue, yellow, orange, purple, green, and each decorated with tiny mountain ranges of harmless spires. Most of them are Pentaceraster alveolatus, reaching 13cm in diameter but there is also another starfish, without spines along the edge of its arms and with brown spines, called Protoreaster nodosus.
Three different species of sea turtles graze on the lush grass beds in the reserve. They don't seem to mind spectators but move off if you move towards them. Like most sea creatures they are curious so, if you are quietly moving around looking at the starfish and sea shells (which you must not disturb), they might come over to see what you have found. This green turtle (Chelonia mydas) snuck up right behind me, as I set up my camera to take this sphere image.
As I spun around in the process of taking the sphere image - there it was, not a metre away, with Freddy behind it, laughing through her snorkel. Apparently the turtle was just inches from my flippers before I turned and Freddy found this hilarious. Yesterday morning I followed a green sea turtle around for over an hour, trying unsuccessfully to take a photo of it. The turtle stayed just out of camera range, moving away at exactly the same speed I approached. I followed it slowly over the grass flats, then gave up and flippered back to the reef edge to photograph a school of yellow snappers.
Just as I dove down to take photos of the fish, the same turtle came gliding by, still at exactly the same distance from me but coming so close to Freddy (who did not have a camera) that she could touch it.
Although it is hard to say for sure, today's green turtle looked suspiciously like the same one. As I joined Freddy, laughing through my snorkel, the turtle flew off with a perfectly innocent look on it's face.
Noumea is the capital and vacation centre of the Islands of New Caledonia in the South Pacific. Noumea is a "French" city, but the 91,000 inhabitants are a very mixed cultural group with French, Melanesian, Polynesian, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and lots of mixtures of these. Over 60% of the population of New Caledonia lives in Noumea.Noumea is a peninsula on the southwestern end of Grande Terre and the central business district (Centre Ville) is next to one of the best natural harbours in the South Pacific. The lagoon side of the peninsula has two picturesque bays with white sand beaches and is called Anse Vata and Baie des Citrons. These twin bays are the international tourism capital of New Caledonia with hotels, restaurants and bars on the landward side of "La Promenade".First settled by the French in 1854, Noumea retains close political ties with France. It has excellent schools and public facilities - parks, recreation areas, exercise paths, schools and medical facilities. Today it is the fastest growing city in the South Pacific. There are 23 hotels in Noumea ranging from one to five stars and over 100 Restaurants.