On January 12th the highlight of the trip for the Seychellois interns and the lucky Mauritians was the “la cage ourite”. Questions were buzzing in my head-do we have such things in Mauritius? In what kind of shelters do octopus live? And where could we find these in the midst of the lagoon? As a Mauritian, I was equally excited as the Seychellois to discover Mauritius!
At 0730 sharp, we hopped in the van and off we were heading to Camp Pêcheurs in Grande Rivière Sud Est (GRSE). The trip to Camp Pêcheurs was about one and a half hours long. We had a super friendly driver Yudisht who along the trip was an insightful guide. Yud even made a halt and bought Mauritian street food; fritters! Piping hot gateau piments, samoosas, baja, channa puri you name it. Yudisht knew we were going to visit the cascade at Ile aux Cerfs by boat, but he also wanted us to view the cascade from above. So, another halt was made along the road next to the sugarcane fields.
At Camp Pêcheurs, we met with Mr Panray who would accompany us for the boat trip. He is from the NGO EPCO- Environmental Protection and Conservation Organization and told us that the “la cage ourite” project started years back in 2004-2005. The project officially known as the “The reconstruction of artificial reefs for octopus” has its raison d’être since previous sand mining activities, dredging, silting and boat movements in GRSE have led to severe ecosystem disruption and destruction. The artificial reefs are according to Mr Panray made of discarded concrete electric poles which are cut and worked out for octopuses’ habitat. They are cylindrical and dome-shaped on top with a small opening. They are also meant to be heavy to resist underwater current.
I stayed aboard while the most reckless donning their fins, mask and tuba went into the water. Luckily for us, one of fishermen brought to the surface the heavy artificial reef! And what did we see??! We saw an octopus all curled up at the bottom! It was an adult octopus and the fisherman deemed it was safe to harpoon it. One of the advantages of the artificial reef is that fishermen can dive and see whether the octopus has reached adult size before they kill it.
Annick & Yannick