Last night was our first night off and instead of catching up on some much needed sleep we stayed up watching the classic film Blue Water White Death, a documentary made in the 1970s about the first expedition to find great white sharks. It is interesting to step back in time and see how easy it was to drop in on an ocean full of sharks, when our expedition is spending hours upon end searching for them to no avail. Also what we know now about shark behaviour has changed dramatically in the last 30 years, most of the last ten.
Today, the island was invaded by Seychellois children. While our boat went to Assumption early this morning to pick them up Rainer, Tom, Dan and myself went to sea in a little tin boat. Perfect timing, as we needed a small boat to get into the mangrove channels early this morning and again later this evening with the high tide. Both times we had exactly two hours to work, Dan filming and Tom and I photographing non-stop to capture the magic of a healthy mangrove system. Where we go so does the bait, but the black tips only came in close enough for good images in the last five minutes. Sharks or no sharks mangroves are so interesting I could spend the entire day exploring their channels. Large expanses of mud and sand coat a floor upon which an underwater forest with intricate cathedral like structures is built, and as the tide dropped around us their fascinating aerial root systems were uncovered. Mangroves are a nursery ground for fish and shark species and as such are essential for healthy oceans. 90% per cent of Aldabra’s lagoon is fringed with a thick 1.5kms wide belt of mangrove that grows as much as 10m high in places.
Our second shoot this morning took us to a place unlike any I have been before. First crossing part of the sandy lagoon we travelled through pea-green mangrove channels to a small opening between two champignons (limestone formations) that spilled out onto a crystal clear pool fed by an underground source. At about 12m down along the pool’s edge a crack in the limestone wall was covered in bright corals – a big surprise. As we were free diving there was no cave exploration today, but being in the first few meters was definitely good enough.