Blacktip Reef Sharks (Carcharhinus melanopterus) don't bite people very often but when a couple of them come this close it does make you wonder if they are particularly hungry or if maybe you are in forbidden territory.
They are bigger than a big, dangerous dog and can be very territorial - especially when they are pregnant. Fortunately, humans are also big, dangerous creatures in a coral reef environment and are known to spear just about anything that swims by. The sharks in the New Caledonia World Heritage site - even in remote areas like Ilot N'da - have had close encounters with many humans and all it takes to get them to swim away at top speed is to mentally conjour up a vision of shark fin soup and then swim slowly in their direction, like you are trying to creep up on them.
This makes it really difficult to take close photos of them since that's what we photographers generally do. Point your camera at a shark and slowly approach it and zowie - it' gone. To get this image I just held my breath and didn't move at all. Well, not until after I took the photo; then I could not help but imagine a nice big bowl of shark fin soup and they were gone in an instant. In case you are wondering, I don't really eat sharkfin soup.
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.