BLUE BAY: Protecting the unique

Blue Bay in the south-east of Mauritius is one of the islands most beautiful places for swimming, snorkeling and diving.

From the beach you have a view over the bay with its white sand, incredibly blue water and the small “Ilot des deux Cocos”. Locals will approach you trying to sell their handcrafted necklaces or a boat trip into the lagoon or surrounding areas.

Especially the boat trips are definitely worth considering! The local providers will take you for a short ride right into the Blue Bay Marine Park. Here is where the actual beauty of Blue Bay lays below the water.

 

Blue Bay Marine Park

The Blue Bay Marine Park is National Park since 1997. The total protected area covers 353 hectares and reaches from blue bay itself up to the coral reef protecting the shore. The Marine Park is home to 38 different coral species and 72 different fish species. On top of that you will see sea-urchins, sea- cucumbers and various crabs.

Its most outstanding features are the big patch reefs which are home to large table corals and more, as well as one of the biggest brain corals in known existence with a size of 6-7 meters diagonally.

 

Conservation in Blue Bay

As so many coral reefs in the world, Blue Bay is not what is ones was.

Several bleaching events, the uncontrolled use of motorboats and watersports as well as pollution have left their mark. Nevertheless, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society long term prospects for Mauritian reefs are good if they are managed properly.

That is exactly where the marine park comes into play. The conservation efforts in the park aim to preserve and restore the flora and fauna in Blue Bay. 

For that reason, Blue bay is parted into different zones which are only usable for specific purposes.  Fishing is strictly regulated, so is water-sports and the use of motorized boats in general. The water quality is being monitored as well as the development in the fish populations.

Source: Convention on Biological Diversity(2012)

Source: Convention on Biological Diversity(2012)

 

The Experience

Most boat trips will take you to the backside of Ilot des deux Cocos to enjoy a snorkel at the patch reefs of the lagoon. Here the density of fish is really high and massive table corals dominate the area. You will have to take care for currents which get quite strong in the channel between Ilot des deux Cocos and Shandrani Hotel. Buoys show precisely where you should swim and where not.

In this area the water has a depth of 1-3 meters. So with a bit of care, swimmers can easily avoid touching corals and hurting themselves and these fragile animals.

In comparison to other snorkel spots that I have visited in Mauritius, the density of fish is just incredible. I saw large trumpet fish, trigger fish in various colors, a cowfish and many other species I did not recognize.  The fish will gather around the boats to look for shadow and food. As a result you will find yourself surrounded by fish as soon as you jump in.

With luck and high tight in the morning you might even see some turtles.

The video below shows the Marine Park how it presents itself today. It also includes some scenes taken close to Ile aux Aigrettes north of Blue b ay. 

@Michael S.