The Sharks of the Seychelles – by Alphonse Island’s Bennet Gevers

SEYCHELLES’ MARINE LIFE AS SEEN FROM THE WATERS AROUND ALPHONSE ISLAND

(Posted 26th July 2017)

 

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The unique biodiversity of the Seychelles has been noted as significant and as such 60% of the area is protected. Luckily with the accompaniment of some of the esteemed resorts in the region, guests can to dive into a whole new world and view these spectacular marine species in their natural and protected habitat. One of these esteemed resorts is Alphonse Island.

The Island’s very own PADI Accredited Diving Centre and its knowledgeable team guides guests on their scuba diving excursions, ensuring a safe and memorable experience. The Diving Centre also offers an array of diving courses for guests to maintain or upgrade their diving experience. Fully kitted and acquainted with your diving instructor, it is time to enter a world of vibrant colour and crystal clear waters.

Alphonse Island and its surrounds holds a collection of 23 diving sites to be explored. These sites showcase vibrant coral reefs, brightly coloured sea fans and of course, large schools of beautiful tropical species like Scorpion Fish, Manta Rays, Moray Eels, Turtles and even bigger species like Barracuda and Giant Trevally. It is also interesting to note that these sites are frequented by a variety of rare shark species found in the Seychelles. Here is a closer look at some of the species you will be able to view on your scuba diving excursion:

 

Tawny Nurse Shark

Nebrius ferrugineus

The Tawny Nurse Shark is the species most spotted at the Alphonse Group. This large cylindrical species with its barbels tend to hunt at night and can often be found sleeping under ledges or in crevices in the reef during the day. However, around Alphonse they have often been seen hunting during the day with an entourage of Napoleon Wrasse and Smooth Grouper in tow – a phenomenon the Island has coined ‘the Wolf Pack’. Tawny Nurse Sharks are listed as Vulnerable

Fascinating Fact: Tawny Nurse Sharks have the curious ability to change their colour from grey to sandy brown depending on their surroundings.

Best Dive Sites: West Side Wall | Eagle’s Nest | Wonderland

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark

Sphyrna lewini

The sightings of these silver creatures, named after the elongated shape of their heads, have become quite regular at Alphonse and residents are hopeful that this will continue into next season. The average size of Scalloped Hammerheads are measured at 1.5 – 1.8m for males and 2.5m for females with larger specimens having been spotted around Alphonse. This species is notoriously shy and thus divers are encouraged to keep noise to a minimum to ensure good sightings. Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks are listed as Endangered.

Fascinating Fact: Scalloped Hammerheads are known to form large schools of 100 or more sharks which makes it quite the sight to behold during migration season.

Best Dive Sites: Galawa | Arcade | Maggi’s Cliff

Grey Reef Shark

Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos

Grey Reef Sharks are quite a commonly found species in the Seychelles and the specimens spotted at Alphonse tend to be bigger than average. Identified by the distinctive white margin on their dorsal fin and the black margin on the tail fin, most specimens don’t grow larger than 2m in length. Grey Reef Sharks are listed as Near Threatened.

Fascinating Fact: The Grey Reef Shark was the first species known to perform a threat display – ‘hunched’ posture with dropped dorsal fins and an exaggerated side-to-side swimming motion.

Best Dive Sites: The Pinnacles | East Side Wall

Whitetip Reef Shark

Triaenodon obesus

The Whitetip Reef Shark is the smallest of the shark species that are frequently encountered around Alphonse Island. Often known for sleeping in large groups during the day and hunting at night, sleeping individuals have rarely been spotted here. This species is easily identified due to its irregular, waving swimming style and of course, the white tip on the dorsal fin. This species is also very curious and will often get quite close to divers. Whitetip Reef Sharks are listed as Near Threatened.

Fascinating Facts: Females give birth to 1 – 6 pups every other year after a gestation period of 10 – 13 months.

Best Dive Sites: Napoleon | the Pinnacles

Silvertip Shark

Carcharhinus albimarginatus

The Silvertip Shark is a sure favourite with guests of Alphonse Island. These inquisitive sharks average at 2 – 3m in length which is just big enough to get the heart racing. Naturally curious, Silvertips will often approach divers, but are nothing to worry about. This species tends to be found near steep drop-offs where there is an upwelling of cooler water. The Silvertip Shark is currently listed as Vulnerable.

Fascinating Fact: Silvertip Females can give birth to up to 11 pups.

Best Dive Sites: Napoleon | the Pinnacles | Grouper Gangway

Also have a look at the Silvertip Shark in action below:

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These unique and beautiful creatures form an intricate part of this stunning ecosystem and due to their vulnerable status, it is of utmost importance to protect and educate individuals about them. Guests to Alphonse Island have the added advantage of having one of the Island’s marine biologists at hand to answer any further questions about these lovely creatures.

Book your dive today to view the Sharks of the Seychelles.

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