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Seychelles’ amazing, boutique aquarium
By Glynn Burridge
There are many kinds of aquarium dotted across the planet in which to enjoy different experiences of the underwater world. Some of these host impressive displays and spectacular species which are indeed fascinating to behold, while others adopt a more subtle approach and one that can lead to the learning experience of a lifetime.
The newly opened Eden Aquarium on Mahé Island’s Eden Island is one of the latter and although only relatively small in size in comparison to, for example, the giant aquarium you find in Dubai, has been cunningly and lovingly conceived to provide a display of Seychelles’ marine creatures in which quality, not quantity or size, is king.
The brain behind this aquarium is Mr. Charles Savy, a Seychellois who has been diving the islands’ waters since 1977
Charles, who also runs a successful, live aboard dive charter operation for discerning divers, is nothing less than a human library when it comes to his favourite subject, and his expertise concerning Seychelles’ underwater world is instantly apparent. But it is clearly his passion and philosophy that is behind the drive to understand, appreciate and share
“After so many years of observation I just started to put some small pieces of this gigantic puzzle together and at the same time discover that each piece of the puzzle is a puzzle within itself. It’s all about habitat. When we know the conditions that a particular animal requires for it to feed and reproduce, unless it has already been fished out, there is a good chance the animal will be there!”
“Understanding life on our planet is vital to understanding and sustaining our own. We are all from the same source.”
It is this rich vein of knowledge that Charles has invested in his aquarium, a task that took him and his two assistants some three years to complete. On most days during that time Charles could be found busy undertaking a diverse number of tasks from the simplest and most mundane to the highly specialised. As a small aquarium, there was no massive budget to bring designers, engineers, and aquarium specialists from every corner of the globe as is the case with many big aquarium projects. So Charles and his small team tackled everything including design and layout, construction and decoration using the widest selection of materials.
“Much of what we did we had to learn and getting the materials we needed was one of the biggest challenges” Charles says, “as just one example, the search for a suitable background for the mangrove tank went on for a very long time without success. I was trying to find a 6m length of 2mm thick turquoise coloured ABS (the same plastic that phones, kitchen utensils and aircraft interiors as well as many other things are made off) from California to Taiwan and it seemed the only way was to order a minimum of five hundred kg when we only needed ten. Eventually, we decided to paint it, but I had to create the colour myself in a solvent-less food grade epoxy, mixing colorants usually used for colouring paints for floors of food factories.”
He continues, “amongst other tasks, learning to bond acrylic by polymerisation was a necessary and challenging task, while the devotion necessary to polish the bonds to create the final product required the patience of a saint.”
Much more than meets the eye has gone into the building of this home from home for some truly amazing species of marine life.
“My close involvement with every stage of the construction of the aquarium has provided me with an intimate connection to it and to its various life forms, most of which I have personally brought in from different parts of the archipelago,” explains Charles, “and this is a huge advantage when it comes to the maintenance and expansion of the project because I am not only familiar with every nut, bolt and process of the installation, but also with the peculiarities of every single one of its residents’’.
This process has resulted in a hand-picked selection of marine life such as would be difficult to achieve in a larger, less personal enterprise and this is the very theme which runs through the displays at Eden Aquarium to a point where, listening to Charles describing them, they might very well be inter-connected as the separate components of one giant, single organism.
“But we did not choose all of the displays – some chose us,” Charles adds. “Take for example the Saragassum Frogfish, a fish that neither I nor anyone else I know has ever seen in the water locally. It fell on the boat like mana from heaven. Just as we were bringing fish from the depths, this one fell on the deck, from a piece of seaweed that had caught on one of the buckets.”
The special knowledge of the origin and habitat of each and every animal in the aquarium makes for the unique level of detail that is the hallmark of the Eden Aquarium and for the rich learning experience it provides to its visitors looking to be wowed by something more than just size and volume.
In the same way that investigating beneath a simple rock in a tide pool can reveal a world every bit as intricate, detailed and fascinating as the more obvious one that lies alongside a forest path, the Eden Aquarium holds many surprises in store for the marine investigator who wants to dig that little bit deeper and have an opportunity to join the dots between the miracle of life in the deep.
For the person who knows nothing about the sea, Eden Aquarium is simply a delightful discovery of more than just fish. It is an interwoven tapestry of art, science and nature cared for with dedication, passion and flair.
مزرع سبز فلک دیدم و داس ماه نو
I spied the spangled field of stars
And the sickle of the moon
فکر از کشث خیش امد و هنگام درو
Thoughts turned to the harvest of my life
And to its reaping, all to soon.Google+
Return of the native
Salt of the Earth Traveller
So very far from home
African adventures in a battered car
Exploring a world gentler than ours
Winds of destiny brought you, tumbling, to these shores
On a boat that breathed its last
On Praslin’s golden sands
From there, she called you
And for forty years, made you her own
The love affair of an island
And her man
Now, my friend, she summons you one final time,
Her old flame
To return your proud ashes to her sweet soil
Best Seychelles Beaches
A thousand miles from anywhere, the Seychelles archipelago was born in the distant past in the turmoil of a massive geological upheaval. This scattering of islands was so remote that it was left untouched by mankind until relatively recently – left alone to develop into the unique microcosm it remains today.
The very name ‘Seychelles’ seems to whisper Paradise. As your aircraft homes in on those tiny specks of land in the glittering waters of the Indian Ocean – far away from the strains and pressures of modern life – prepare to witness a miracle.
There are many things to do on a Seychelles vacation which offers enormous diversity and is in fact many destinations rolled into one but the enduring appeal of the islands continues to be the unparalleled experience it offers of sun, sea and sand.
Seychelles beaches are indeed exceptional and each island possesses its own particular gem. Many beaches make regularly make it into the list of the world’s top strands and several, just as often, top that list.
If you are a worshipper of great beaches, here is where to go.
Anseà la Mouche
Situated on the south-western side of Mahé, Anseà la Mouche is a sparkling, large and calm bay with shallow clear waters. Swimming here is very safe and suitable for children as the water remains shallow even at high tide with no strong currents.
Anse-aux-Pins and Turtle Bay
This long stretch of coastline stretching along the south-eastern coast of Mahé and including Turtle Bay, has narrow beaches and shallow waters that lie close to the coastal road. At low tide, it is interesting to walk on the sand and rocky outcrops where you will all sorts of marine life trapped in rock pools. Local fishermen also use this stretch of coast to set fish traps and hunt for octopus and can often be seen wading out to the reef at low tide. At high tide it is possible to swim here, but the water remains fairly shallow.
Located on the south-western coast, the beach of AnseBoileau is a narrow band of sand fringing shallow waters close to the main coastal road. Fishermen can often be seen unloading their fish traps and small boats along this scenic beach.
Perhaps, in the age of the corsairs, pirates did indeed visit this beautiful beach on the south-eastern coast of Mahé. Nowadays, AnseForbans is popular with visitors from nearby hotels along the shoreline. It presents a long narrow stretch of soft white sands suitable for swimming.
Anse Major (or Anse Jasmin)
This secluded beach can only be reached by boat trip or by hiking a nature trail from Danzil on the most north-westerly point of Mahé. The walk to the beach and back takes around three hours, but many visitors prefer to take a picnic and spend at least half a day here. Anse Major has a large sandy beach and, to the rear, a small lagoon.
The stretch of small rock-fringed coves along the coast of Anse Royale on the south-eastern coast of Mahé, from the area known as Fairyland down to the Anglican church at Anse Royale, is an enchanting place for swimming and snorkelling. The best areas for snorkelling are around the rocks at Fairyland and up to the small island just off the coast where there are myriad brightly coloured coral fish.
Anse Soleil on the south-western coast of Mahé is a stunningly attractive bay, good for swimming and snorkelling, presenting a wide stretch of sandy beach, surrounded by large shady trees. This beach is very photogenic and a popular place for weekend beach picnics.
The last beach on the west coast road, AnseTakamaka is named after the stately takamaka trees that surround it. A picturesque spot, care must be taken when swimming due to strong currents.
Surrounded by National Marine Park waters, this pristine beach is popular with scuba divers and sailors. Boasting a large expanse of white coralsands it is located in a popular and picturesque corner of Mahé – paradise for those who discover it.
For the historically minded, this beach is worth visiting to imagine the vantage of LazarePicault, the first mariner to land and claim Mahé for France in 1742. This palm-fringed bay on the south-western coast has a narrow sandy beach close to the road and is one of the island’s quieter spots.
This is Mahé’s most popular resort beach with both visitors and locals alike. This sweeping bay of white sands and clear waters on the north-western coast of Mahé offers a very safe swimming area. With hotels stretched out along its sands, together with water sport and diving centres, this is the beach for those wishing to do something a little more energetic than soaking up the sun.
On the north coast of Mahé, this wide sandy bay is suitable for swimming. The waves here are large, but swimmers can safely go beyond the breakers to the calmer deep blue waters beyond. Not suitable for small children as the seafloor does fall away steeply.
Grand Anse, on the south-western coast of Mahé is, as its name suggests, an imposing sandy bay. Although care should be taken swimming because of the strong undertow, it is a spectacular beach to walk along, with rolling waves and a long stretch of shoreline.
Intendance beach in southern Mahé offers half a mile of powder white sand and huge breakers. There is no reef so the waves are much larger than most of the other beaches around the island, making it more suitable for surfing than swimming. In the north-west trade wind season the sea is calmer here and better suited for swimming.
North East Point
This stretch of coastline is a rocky windswept contrast to the tranquil sandy bays on the opposite shores of the island. Close to the main road, the beaches are narrow stretches of white sand with rocks and a reef close to the shoreline.
At Glacis, on the north-western coast of Mahé, this small beach is close to the Sunset Beach Hotel. Edged with palms and trees, this beautiful beach is superb for swimming and snorkelling. Snorkelling is particularly good around the rocks below the hotel, and sightings of turtles here are common.
This bay is close to Anse Soleil and can be reached by taking the minor coastal road from BaieLazare and then turning into a left hand fork before reaching Anse Soleil. This pretty beach is more than worth the journey as it offers great swimming and sunbathing.
Petit Police and Police Bay
On either side of the south-western tip of Mahé are two magnificent bays with rolling waves and soft white sands. These two beaches are best suited for walking and photography as the strong currents here make them dangerous for swimming.
This breathtaking beach, which is also a National Marine Park, is on the north-western coast of Mahé and can be reached by taking the road past Port Glaud and Ephelia Hotel. Swimming and especially snorkelling here is excellent, with a wide variety of colourful fish that can be seen in and around the edges of the impressive bay.
AnseBoudin is close to the coastal road leading to Anse Lazio and it is a long slender beach with very soft sands and calm seas for swimming and snorkelling.
On the edge of the Cote d’Or coastline this smaller white sandy bay is situated between the Cote d’Or Lodge and the L’Archipel Hotel. It is safe for swimming and there are water sports facilities nearby.
AnseKerlan and Petit AnseKerlan
These two stunning aquamarine bays are part of the Lémuria resort. Both have sandy coves surrounded by picturesque granite rocks. Swimming and particularly snorkelling here is excellent. There can be strong currents pushing swimmers out to sea at certain times of the year, but the hotel will advise guests on the suitability of swimming.
Anse La Farine
Perhaps so named because the sands here are so powder soft they resemble flour? This small pretty beach is unfortunately not accessible by road but can be reached by boat.
The most famous beach on Praslin, and rightly so. Well worth the long winding drive from AnseVolbert, Anse Lazio can claim to be the perfect tropical paradise beach and is often listed among the world’s top ten beaches.
Anse Matelot is a small sandy cove, a short walk away from the L’Archipel Hotel. Its remote location means it is often deserted. Suitable for swimming.
Close to La Reserve Hotel, Anse Possession is a sandy bay just off the main coastal road with tranquil shallow waters.
AnseVolbert and Côte d’Or
Praslin’s main beach resort, with its many hotels and guesthouses lining a golden coastline is rarely crowded. AnseVolbert is a dazzlingly white stretch of beach and the crystal clear sea here is excellent for swimming and water sports.
On the eastern side of Praslin, close to the airport, this large bay has several hotels overlooking the seashore. Grand Anse is a large wide beach, and the sea here is good for swimming and water sports. The beach is at its best during the north-west trade winds when the sea is calm and clear.
Anse Bonnet Carré
Many visitors to La Digue walk or cycle to the famous Anse Source d’Argent, but few take the trouble to explore further along the coastline. Anse Bonnet Carré rewards those that do; a beach that can only be accessed by foot. It has the same white sands as its famous neighbour, with fewer rocks and the same shallow warm waters, more suitable for a relaxing wallow than an energetic swim.
This pretty bay on the eastern coast of La Digue is only accessible by foot, either by taking a path from Grand Anse, or, in the other direction, from AnseFourmis. Because of its more sheltered aspect, this beach, unlike its neighbouring bays of Grand and Petit Anse, is safe for swimmers, but there are still some strong currents, so care does need to be taken.
On the north of the island, AnseGaulettes is a long narrow stretch of sand close to the coastal road. The water is suitable for swimming, and cyclists on a tour around the island often stop here for a quick cooling dip.
Anse la Reunion
La Digue Island Lodge and Choppy’s Beach Bungalows lie along its shore. Anse la Reunion is an attractive long, curving sun-soaked beach offering fine views of the neighbouring island of Praslin.
On the northernmost tip of La Digue, AnsePatates is close to Patratran Village and borders the longer beach of AnseGaulettes. Blessed with soft white sands and calm seas, it well suited for both swimming and snorkelling.
When walking along the famous Anse Source d’Argent, continue across the small river until you reach AnsePierrot. This beach is slightly narrower than Source D’Argent and its rocks are less photogenic, but it has the same shallow warm waters.
From the jetty at la Passe, this is the first beach along the road to the left. Although there are a number of small hotels along its shore, the beach is a wonderful place to be.
Anse Source D’Argent
This is reputed to be the most photographed beach in the world. With its soft white sands, clear turquoise water and huge granite boulders sculptured by the elements and time itself, it is not difficult to see why photographers and film makers still love to come here.
This beach is part of the L’ Union Estate, a plantation open to the public. Along its shore is a small boat-building yard, a traditional craft of La Digue. The sea here is good for swimming and for snorkelling.
A picturesque beach with huge waves and surrounded by large granite rocks, the sea is unfortunately not for swimming, and there are signs on the seashore warning of the dangers of swimming here. Although the sea may look inviting there is an extremely strong undertow, so do not be tempted.
A large beach for one named petit! This is the sister beach to Grand Anse and can be reached by walking across the rocks from Grand Anse, following the footpath. Swimming here is also as dangerous, but it is a secluded beach for sunbathing or picnicking.
Takamaka Beach is the longest beach on Cerf Island, and offers excellent conditions for numerous activities, two beach restaurants, and a few unique features such as a guided snorkelling trail and a night-time aquarium.
Anse la Fontaine is a small, oft-deserted beach on the south coast of Cerf Island, a tiny satellite island of Mahé, situated in the Sainte Anne Marine Park. This private spot is well-suited for relaxation in total solitude, a walk along the beach, snorkelling, scuba diving, and fishing.
Ile Cachée, or ‘Hidden Island’ in English, is a beautiful little island located near to Cerf Island in the Sainte Anne Marine Park, offshore from Mahé. The beach here can be reached at low tide from Cerf by simply walking across the sand, or at high tide by boat. It is rumoured that the beach is also home to some buried pirate treasure!
When you have exhausted Seychelles’ world-beating beaches, remember that there is so much more still to do on these island where the fun never stops and where you are only ever one step away from your next adventure.