World Heritage Site New Caledonia Sou...
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Panoramic photo by Richard Chesher PRO EXPERT MAESTRO Taken 00:23, 11/04/2010 - Views loading...

World Heritage Site New Caledonia Southern Lagoon

The World > Pacific Ocean Islands > Melanesia > New Caledonia

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Ilot Kouare is a small uninhabited islet in the World Heritage Site of New Caledonia's Lagoon, about 40 nautical miles southeast of Noumea. A maze of vibrant coral reefs surround the islet and here, in the summer, thousands of species of fish and invertebrates assemble to breed in the clear protected waters.

A few pleasure boats from Noumea venture this far into the southern lagoon during weekends and holidays. Kouare has a reasonably good lagoon anchorage with plenty of open sand areas in 6 to 7 metres of water to anchor in.

The fringing reef is lush with brilliantly colored corals from awash at low tide to 6 meters of water. Snorkelling along the reef is an absolute delight with sea turtles, shoals of sardines, tropical fish of every description, brilliant sea fans and even a small white tip reef shark Triaenodon obesus that glided by as I was taking this underwater panorama of the coral reef. It swam around the coral mound three times. The third time it vanished behind the coral I quickly finned over, dove down, and waited for it to come around for another pass. I wanted a nice close-up of it just coming over the reef, next to a plate coral. It had come exactly the same way each time.

I waited and waited, Freddy staying well back so as not to frighten it, until I could not hold my breath any longer. I surfaced and there was no shark in sight. "Where's the shark?" I called out to Freddy.

"It came up just on the other side of the coral head from you then somehow knew you were there."

"Which way did it go?" I asked swimming over to her.

"It stopped just before it came over the coral and then turned and swam off as fast as it could go - that way, along the reef. You really scared it."

I have no idea how it knew I was lying in wait. Perhaps the shark's lateral line motion sensors picked up some slight movement. Maybe it is just one of those things - like when you look at someone who is turned away from you and somehow they know - even at some distance - and turn around and look right into your eyes.

Since this part of the World Heritage Site management plan allows for fishing - even spear fishing - the critters are hyper sensitive and if you look directly at them or try to approach them they keep their distance. Which is just as well.

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Nearby images in New Caledonia

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A: Red and Yellow Octocorals at Ilot Kouare New Caledonia

by Richard Chesher, less than 10 meters away

A bright, clear, calm morning at Ilot Kouare in the deep south of the world's largest coral reef lago...

Red and Yellow Octocorals at Ilot Kouare New Caledonia

B: Superyacht Slojo Ilot Kouare New Caledonia

by Richard Chesher, 190 meters away

The crew and owners of the 48 metre long superyacht Slojo watch the sunset after a day of fun and sun...

Superyacht Slojo Ilot Kouare New Caledonia

C: Sea Turtle Reserve Beach Ilot Kouare New Caledonia

by Richard Chesher, 200 meters away

I love sea turtles and we often see them in the New Caledonia lagoon, swimming along doing their curi...

Sea Turtle Reserve Beach Ilot Kouare New Caledonia

D: Coral Patch Reef at Kouare New Caledonia

by Richard Chesher, 240 meters away

Back in April, when I took the over-underwater sphere image here in Kouare, it was really calm and Fr...

Coral Patch Reef at Kouare New Caledonia

E: Underwater Sunlight at Ilot Kouare New Caledonia

by Richard Chesher, 310 meters away

The small scattered coral islands of New Caledonia's World Heritage Site Lagoon are surrounded by two...

Underwater Sunlight at Ilot Kouare New Caledonia

F: Sea Birds New Caledonia Lagoon

by Richard Chesher, 440 meters away

We saw 5 species of sea birds on Kouare Island in the great southern lagoon of New Caledonia. Ilot Ko...

Sea Birds New Caledonia Lagoon

G: Great Lagoon Regatta New Caledonia

by Richard Chesher, 470 meters away

The Great Lagoon Regatta of New Caledonia takes place in May with local and International yachts comp...

Great Lagoon Regatta New Caledonia

H: Ghost Crabs on Ilot Kouare Beach New Caledonia

by Richard Chesher, 480 meters away

Ghost crabs, Ocypode ceratophthalmus, on the white sandy beach at Ilot Kouare nature reserve, are rea...

Ghost Crabs on Ilot Kouare Beach New Caledonia

I: Ilot Kouare North Boat Pass

by Richard Chesher, 610 meters away

Ilot Kouare is one of the better anchorages in New Caledonia's great southern lagoon. You can anchor ...

Ilot Kouare North Boat Pass

J: Coral Reef Scenic Ilot Kouare New Caledonia

by Richard Chesher, 680 meters away

Ilot Kouare is a protected sanctuary in New Caledonia's World Heritage Site Lagoon. It's about 40 nau...

Coral Reef Scenic Ilot Kouare New Caledonia

This panorama was taken in New Caledonia

This is an overview of New Caledonia

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.

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