We can always count on Aldabra providing us with wonderful surprises... We left Le Ponant before sunrise with the high tide to search for nesting sea turtles with Jonathan and Gemma. Almost as soon as we landed, Gemma and the Aldabra Research scientist, Naomi, found a female green turtle in the process of covering her eggs. We watched her for forty-five minutes as she took her time, carefully covering the eggs before she headed back toward the open sea. The sunrise was magnificent and we all returned to the ship for breakfast excited with our great photos of “our turtle.”
Many of us snorkeled outside the reef amidst swirling schools of fusiliers and blue finned Jacks while the divers found themselves in a virtual aquarium of clear water teeming with fish. When the tide rose again, we boarded Zodiacs and headed over the reef to shore to visit the research station and talk with the rangers and scientists before setting off for various nature walks. We waded in the shallow water with lemon sharks and black-tipped reef sharks swimming around us, then fortuitously spotted the endemic Aldabra drongo, Aldbara fody and the Aldabra flightless rail, all very close to the station. The giant tortoises were a hit; a few of them were quite friendly and posed for pictures. The huge coconut crabs, named for their powerful claws, were scuttling across the paths both in their red and purple morphs.
Later in the afternoon we rode Zodiac inside the lagoon to the West Channel, just off the Picard Station. When we dropped into the water outside Passé Dubois we found the current rushing in at about three knots and we literally flew over the coral wall and into the lagoon, immediately spotting a school of more than 500 petal tail snappers, hawksbill and green turtles returning to the lagoon, and had great sighting of African angel fish!
The first round was swift and we climbed back into the Zodiacs quickly to be ferried up to the mouth of the Passé to do it again, watching the schools of rainbow-colored fish below and following the turtles as they scooted well ahead of us into the lagoon! With each turn, the waters slowed as the high tide crested and the currents fell slack. We headed back to Le Ponant where the bartenders waited with cocktails and our cabins with hot showers. On the top deck, in the brilliant after-light from the setting sun, we waved good-bye to Naomi, Philippe, and the Rangers of Aldabra. We were tired but thrilled with the memories of this exhilarating day.