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A Cornucopia of Color: An Interview with Jack Grove
Zegrahm Expeditions cofounder and marine biologist Jack Grove, recently took time to answer some questions about the Seychelles. Learn about his most memorable journeys to the exceptional archipelago, below.
How many times have you been to the Seychelles?
My first trips to the Seychelles were prior to the formation of Zegrahm Expeditions. I have not counted but I think it’s safe to say I’ve been at least 12 times since 1984. It is one of my favorite destinations.
What is the most memorable experience you’ve had while visiting the area?
Aldabra and Astove Atoll are my two favorite destinations, though the most beautiful beach in the world is on La Digue. Snorkeling at the World Heritage Site of Aldabra is unsurpassed. Leading a group of snorkelers on, what I refer to as, a high adrenaline drift snorkel, surrounded by large fish that have no fear of you, through a channel adorned with healthy corals and sponges—is amazing.
Astove Atoll has a special place in my heart; it is uninhabited by humans and home to one of the largest nesting areas for green sea turtles in the Indian Ocean. The seas surrounding the atoll are crystal clear and few people get to visit this natural wonderland, because it is so remote. I have been involved in trying to get it accepted as a new World Heritage Site, which has included meeting with the World Conservation Union and the World Wildlife Fund, discussing the value of this isolated marine habitat.
What is your favorite activity to do there and why?
There is no doubt that I have a bias toward marine life and given a choice, I'll use a mask and snorkel rather than a pair of binoculars. One of my favorite fish in the Seychelles is the radiant blue surgeonfish—it will knock your socks off. It’s called a powder blue tang; to swim among a school of such brilliantly colored fish is to be enveloped in the beauty of nature. A cornucopia of color!
Can you explain the difference between the northern islands of the Seychelles versus the outlying southwesterly islands and atolls?
The archipelago is dramatically different from north to south. The islands were spread out like pearls across the western Indian Ocean as Pangaea split up, and the Indian subcontinent drifted to the northeast, eventually colliding with the Asian continent giving rise to the Himalayas. The granite rocks that comprise the northern islands have been sculpted by millions of years of weathering, and the Salvador Dali-like sculptures afford the most incredible seascapes in the world. In the central area of the island group, the islets are low-lying and surrounded by lush sea grasses where sea turtles abound. But for a guy like me, the real gems are in the south where submerged granite has been encrusted by luxuriant coral reefs, growing in concentric forms called atolls. There are no more beautiful, serene isles in the oceans of the world. I can hardly wait to return.
What’s unique about the Seychelles that can’t be replicated any place else?
White sand beaches embroidered by surreal pink…granite boulders and palm trees with the world’s largest coconut…the giant tortoise…and several World Heritage Sites including the fabled Valle de Mai, home to the coco de mer. It is one of those places you have to experience firsthand in order to believe it is real…Come join us and you will know that the Seychelles are more than unique—these islands are out of this world.
Join Jack on our Ultimate Seychelles with Aldabra Atoll expedition departing January 13, or join Zegrahm cofounders Peter Harrison and Shirley Metz on our Classic Seychelles with the Comoros & Zanzibar expedition departing January 24. Plus, check out our exclusive conversation with Peter regarding his love for the Seychelles on our Facebook page.