Since my arrival in Mauritius I had gone to sleep late at night with laughter resonating from the Lawen twin’s room to mine and often I found myself waking up to the same happy sound. Today was no different (Not realising that I had gotten so used to the giggling I would miss it when I got back to Seychelles). Five minutes later noise erupted even louder as the whole house was wide awake eager for another day out at sea as part of our Blue Economy visit in Mauritius. Today we were once again going to be joined by our dear Mauritian friends on our trip. We were all looking forward.After getting ready, having breakfast, packing our water and other essentials especially sunscreen we got on the bus and away we went!
One of our first stop was to visit a waterfall –a huge waterfall! Our driver Irdish who I must say was like a three in one- our guide, our driver and transport DJ decided to make an early stop to show us how the waterfall we were to visit later was like from above. So we made a stop next to a large sugarcane plantation and walked across the plantation until we reached the waterfall.
The view of the cascade was splendid. Crystal clear water flowed down on volcanic rocks with a loud thumping roar, mighty and powerful just like the creator behind the creation! We stood there in awe taking photos and filming this scenic view. After some time we bid a temporary farewell to the fall, as we knew we would come here later in the day by boat!
The next stop brought us to a fishermen’s jetty. As I got off the bus, I could see loads of other tourists who was waiting for a hired boat to take them to excursion, to another island or snorkel. Hence the similarity between Seychelles and Mauritius. As island nation both depends heavily on their ocean to use as a source to generate capital to their home economy.
Around the jetty there were several fishing boats and individual fishing from rocks. One thing in particular got the attention of everyone. It was two very satisfied fishermen coming to shore with two big sharks –the catch of the day. All curious, we went to them to take a glance, as they pull the two heavy loads on shore.
When we reached there up-close, the view got me all heartbroken! The two sharks were dead. Well more like 80% dead! If you were to put your hand in its mouth it would still raze you off -after all instinct do die hard! Everyone started taking photos of these two once feared monsters. I look upon it all, speechless as can be. For a while I wondered whether it is us or the shark who is the bigger monster.
It was a conflicting experience. I do understand that we need food for consumption and that a healthy ocean and sustainable fishing do ensures food security. I myself love fish. But seeing the poor sharks, cold and dead, got me feeling all confuse. Even though, sharks may or may not kill us human in search of food (even if most of the time it is done as an accident as they do mistake us for other yummy creatures which they prefer). So it is a nature’s imposed vicious circle all on its own! As I made endless reflection my young colleagues around me were taking endless photos session holding the sharks. So I tried to be brave and to stop overthinking for me to also get a photo with one… or next to one for my blog. After all it was two honest fishermen trying to get a livelihood and to feed the community. It took me about 15 minutes to decide that I wanted a photo –but even then I was not sure what I was doing. As I touched the shark (which the Mauritian termed as reken manzel) I had a gloomy sad face which vanishes as I realised how weak I was and how heavier the shark was. It took me minutes to lift it up by myself, all the while comments and joke of how physically weak I was erupted around me ...I had to laugh! And the camera caught me laughing! Again a contradictory outcome…hmmm!
After this we went on a boat trip- trip to see octopus (As part of a reef restoration project). As I board the boat the fisherman piloting the boat kept telling me about how beautiful Seychelles was. Mind you, he had never been to Seychelles, but words on how we resemble a paradise do travel fast across the ocean. And he had heard so much on my home country and especially how we have a lot of fish. Thus the importance of why we need to preserve our natural environment as it would be such a shame to be known worldwide for destroying our green and blue environment merely for development.
Then the boat stopped. We had reached the site. Everyone got their snorkeling gear even though I could not get a snorkel which made it harder for me. It was my second time snorkeling in Mauritius waters. The previous day I has snorkel for the first time in mangroves. I leaped in the sea, all eager to spot some octopus in their natural habitat. I started swimming to the designated area… I reached there, I was so ready to take a sneak peak in the water below… and suddenly my mask broke! I couldn’t see anything. I tried others, but none fit. So I went back in the boat. At the end of the octopus expedition a fisherman dived and brought back an octopus to the surface to show everyone. I was informed that a project had recently started and as a part of the project was to build houses for octopi, one advantage of the artificial house is that it is easier to tell mature octopus apart from juvenile ones thus fisherman can spear the juvenile ones and kill only the mature.
After this we went to a nearby island next to mainland Mauritius where we had a Mauritian style beach lunch and then we went back to the waterfall which we had visited earlier. This time around we went by boat and we saw a different perspective of the beauty of the Cascade. The waterfall itself has a direct route into the ocean, thus an importance of not polluting fresh water as well as all litter do end up in the ocean one way or the other.
Written by Shantana Barbe.