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Of Mermaids And Sharks – A Simpler Life

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on December 21, 2019 03:47

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When you take a break to get away from it all, you expect that things will be simpler. That choice will be clearer. That the bad guys will wear black hats. And so it turns out to be, except…

A mermaid asked me out to tea
I accepted, for a lark.
It all was very well, except
Her father was a shark

Barely 24 hours on the island, one refresher dive done, and our dive leader invited my wife, and incidentally me, on an exploratory visit to the north. Where the Indian Ocean breaks, for the first time since Australia, against the deserted Snake Island (which has no snakes) and Round island, (which does) there is a basin where the waves break.

Sharks love the richly oxygenated water, as they don’t need to swim all the time, and can even sleep.

Barrcuda in oxygen-rich waters

Years ago we used to dive in such a trench, in this area, and spent hours with the reef sharks, until some idiot dropped dynamite in the pit. Since then, more that twenty years, no shark has been seen there.

Stunning scenery

We dropped in, a motley group; an Italian, a petite French girl, a big German, several Frenchmen, a couple of Mauritians and one South African. The oily calm waters hid a long, slow surge, muscles of a distant tropical disturbance rippling under the skin. The water was warm, 30 degrees Celsius, ideal for a tropical cyclone, and already two had formed in this region, and a third was trying to get itself together, far to the north.

Lost ship’s anchors testify to long-ago storms when desperate sailor tried to survive.

Mermaid at the lost anchor

A strong surge washed us about, sucking us into a gully and flushing us out again. And then: the basin. An enormous barracuda policed the surface, a few small tuna circled, and two reef sharks circled effortlessly.
Strong surge

The Italian hugged a rock to her ample bosom, my wife wedged herself into a crack. I was washed about until I, too, found a rock to grab. For minutes we watched these graceful creatures, then went on to explore some spectacular scenery before surfacing, elated and united in sharing and appreciating what we had seen.

Reef shark

The sharks were curious, not threatening. Perhaps the most evil creature was a stonefish, a repulsive, venomous creature, but he, too, had his place in the food chain. This year we saw a number of turtles, gracefully circling and nudging each other. Mauritius is the honeymoon island, after all.

Turtles checking each other out. 

In this world we are fleeting visitors, a passing curiosity. Yet we damage this delicate ecosystem every day without thinking. We found a plastic bottle floating, all the way from Australia. Verdict: can do better.


Credit: All photos by Shahnaz van Wyk. Thanks, love. 

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on December 21, 2019 03:47


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Source: Daily Mail

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