Most people spend a day on the beach playing in the ocean or bathing in the sun. Myself included, would have considered this a successful day. Here in the Seychelles islands, especially here on Curieuse, we have a very different way to spend a day on the beach. The island of Curieuse is home to a variety of incredible fauna, but perhaps none as enchanting as the sea turtles that inhabit the area. Lucky visitors to this tropical paradise might get the opportunity to have a fleeting glance of these majestic creatures of the sea. However, only the truly fortunate get the chance to be present at the perfect time of year to observe their nesting on the local beaches. That is why this past week has made me realise how fortunate I truly am to be here in the Seychelles now.
Not only did I get to see one of these marvelous occurrences once, but four times all in the matter of a few hours. Taking regular trips to Grand Anse, the largest beach here on Curieuse, gives me the best opportunity to interact with these rarely seen creatures of the sea. Grand Anse is one of the most popular nesting sites in the Seychelles for sea turtles; especially Hawksbills. This is also one of the only locations in the world where Hawksbills can be seen nesting in the middle of the day; as most other sea turtle populations nest after dark. This past week I have spent several hours of the day patrolling the beaches trying to observe the Hawksbill nesting habits. This work was rewarded several times over when I was finally able to witness their nesting first hand and up close. While patrolling the beach my group and I witnessed a female Hawksbill turtle leave the sea to journey up the sandy beaches and attempt to construct a nest for her eggs. This experience is something that few ever get to see and which I will never forget. The joy of watching this severely endangered species grow is impossible to describe. Thinking this feeling would never be matched, I was quickly proven wrong when shortly after three more females exited the water to begin their nesting as well. It was a day full of surprise, joy, and pure magic. The very thing I had hoped for most while visiting the Seychelles had occurred not once, but four times before my very eyes.
As the day was coming to a close and the group began the journey back to camp for the day, I didn’t yet realise that the day would hold one more special surprise for me. While walking back one of the group members spotted a strange looking rock on the ground. Upon closer inspection it was clear that it was not a strange rock, but a beautiful baby tortoise. Also popular in the Seychelles is the Aldabra Giant tortoises, which have been growing in population here on the island. Most new born tortoises are monitored in a nursery here on the island to protect them from poachers and ensure their growth to full maturity. It seems that this little baby tortoise had been born recently from a pair of the several healthy adults roaming the island. In order to be sure this little fellow would be safe, we transported him immediately to the local nursery to be cared for properly.
There you have it, in one day I saw more natural wonder then I ever thought possible for a single person. The island granted me the privilege of seeing some of its magic and mystery, which I won’t soon forget. This has forever changed my opinion on what I would consider a “successful beach day”.