On Saturday morning Freddy and I snorkelled to the coral reef at l'Escapade Island Resort. The water was cool and reasonably clear for the inner lagoon at Ilot Maitre.
The enormous school of yellow grunts were there, as usual, and I wondered why it is that individual fish swimming apart from the school allowed me to come very close to photograph them but the school itself would not let me approach closer than about 3 metres. Maybe, I thought, because the group as a whole responded to the evasion movements of most timid individual amongst them while the independent individuals were the least timid of them all.
As I created this sphere image of the ever-changing shoal of fish, a hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) came leisurely cruising by, passing only a metre from my camera, only mildly curious and not the least alarmed by my presence. This is a critically endangered species and I was delighted to see it.
Ilot Maitre, like much of the southern lagoon of New Caledonia has been a marine reserve for many years and the sea life is slowly coming to trust humans who venture into their domain. Experiencing that trust on Saturday morning was wonderful. I smiled and said (silently) "Thank you, turtle, my friend."
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.