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.
Une Nation du Pacifique Sud, la plus proche de l'Australie et de la Nouvelle Zélande. Une chaîne de hautes montagnes, d'impressionnantes cascades et de nombreuses rivières avec une flore et une faune variée et souvent unique au monde - C'est le paradis de la randonnée pédestre ou équestre ainsi que de l'excursion en véhicule tout-terrain.Le plus grand lagon du monde, peuplé d'une faune tropicale endémique particulièrement riche, avec des récifs et des populations de poissons rares et protégées. Des centaines d'épaves sous-marines, des îlots, de nombreuses plages de sable blanc. La population calédonienne est issue d'un large brassage culturel : Mélanésiens, Européens, Polynésiens, Vietnamiens, Chinois, Japonais, et la langue et culture française. La Nouvelle-Calédonie est dotée de très bonnes infrastructures médicales et sociales. Une infrastructure touristique qui offre un large éventail de types d'hébergement allant de l'hôtel 5 étoiles au camping aménagé en passant par l'accueil en milieu tribal, les chambres d'hôtes, les refuges et l'auberge de jeunesse.