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The crying sounds of puffins nesting on Ilot Mato wake up on the 23rd of March at 05:30. They cry like a moaning baby - a very erie sound. Then it dawns on me that there is absolute quiet - except for the birds ashore. Not a sound. No wind, no waves, not a peep from the sea birds that typically start work at dawn. I get up and go on deck to look around. It is so calm the sea is a mirror reflecting the cloudy sky. And there is no horizon at all. Now most sensible people would smile and go back to bed - but I quickly go below to grab my camera and then - on tip toe so I don't make even a slight wave on the sea - I take a sphere image of this amazing morning. It is perfect for the theme of World Wide Panorama's current global snapshot of our planet - "limits." I will call it "Zero Limit Dawn Horizon" A horizon without limits extending around our planet in every direction. For me it is the dawn of a very active day because when it is really calm like this we can motor slowly over the reefs with the dinghy and see the coral reefs and fish as if there was no water at all.
Also, when it is calm like this the surface of the sea is like a mirror when you look up at it from underwater. I will take some underwater sphere images with the mirrored surface reflecting the reefs. If, that is, the dawn calm lasts long enough. Actually I have three likely spots picked out already. There is a coral reef nursery area that we explored yesterday, and a colony of clown fish, a lovely thicket of bright blue staghorn coral out by the pass. They would all be fantastic with a mirror above them. We'll head off for a day of fun in the sun right after breakfast.
New Caledonia is the closest South Pacific Island to Australia and New Zealand. It is a French Territory and although the official language is French the culture is a blend of Melanesian, European, Polynesian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian, and more. There is one large mountainous island called Grande Terre and 6 smaller islands - the three Loyalty Islands, Belep and the Isle of Pines.The islands are remarkably unpopulated and there are vast areas of wilderness. There are hundreds of kilometers of walking treks, camp grounds, more than 42 parks and reserves, and crystal clear rivers with sparkling waterfalls. Almost one third of the population is located in the capital city of Noumea. Nickel mining is the primary industry and is the major contributor to the high standard of living in the country. Grande Terre is surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world and the protected lagoon created by this barrier reef is the largest in the world. Listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008, the lagoon is 24,000 square kilometers and supports a diverse and luxuriant fauna of fish and invertebrates.The vibrant, clear and rich colors are one of the first things that visitors notice when they arrive. Noumea has a complete range of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and activities to welcome visitors.