What an evening…on arrival to Ile Vache Marine we circumnavigated the island and discovered what appeared to be an exhausted green turtle stranded in the undergrowth next to the beach. We decided if she had not moved by morning we would carry her back to the water. While we were contemplating this we noticed a ghost crab scuttling about awkwardly stumbling over something in its claws. On closer inspection we saw that it had caught a turtle hatchling. This little one stopped at the first hurdle in survival…it will never make it back to this beach as an adult.
As dark fell we did another circuit around the island looking for rats. This was the site of a pilot invasive species eradication scheme aimed at ridding the small island of rats. We see none but this does not mean that the island has been freed of this pest. We will have to carry out another check in a years time to be sure that none remain behind. Hopefully they will be gone for good allowing the seabirds to return and nest in numbers here. After the check we sleep under the stars on this cool tropical night.
In the early hours of the morning we get picked up from just off the beach and race back across to the research vessel in time for breakfast and a swift turnaround to join the morning dive.
The coral gardens off Ile Poule are the highlights today. They are stunning, coral growing over coral growing over coral all spread in a vibrant smothering of fish. Turtles are there in the mix and a couple of shark cruising through. I watch Gary and Chris as they work, carrying out detailed surveys of the benthic life of the reefs for their carbon budget studies.
Not to be outdone this afternoons dive was rich with little things to look at in amongst the more weathered corals of the southeast facing reefs outside Ile Fouquet. And more dolphin! A pod being playful with us en route to the dive site this afternoon. Having a great time playing in front of our bow.
Incredible conditions once again offering up the most spectacular day in Chagos.