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Oh, mighty mangroves...

By Ilona de Ruijter 3 years ago
Categories Mahe and Curieuse

I am lying in my bed, falling asleep with the sound of the sea. The waves are loud, but so relaxing. I am tired, my eyes are getting heavy. I can see water streaming into a forest. The tide is getting higher. A tortoise is slowly moving to a dryer area. Crabs are running sideways away from me, scared by my loud footsteps on the boardwalk. They are acting like aggressive pirates trying to frighten me with their scissor claws. But they are more scared of me than I am of them. They don’t Ilona1even close their claws when I put my shoe in between their scissor blades. I walk further on the boardwalk and see some mudskippers jumping away from me. I try to catch them, but they are always too fast, just like the skinks on base. The tide is really high now. The water is almost touching the boardwalk, the forest is flooded. I take a close look and see knees in the water. Very small, bony and wrinkled, like they are gnomes’ knees. When I look a little to the left I see tiny snorkels. Are there trolls snorkelling out here? Sitting with only their knees rising up from the sand? It feels like I’ve entered a fairytale. Suddenly I hear someone screaming: “Lemon! Lemon!”. I run into the direction of the sound, and what I find is not fruit, but a shark. Together we catch the little sicklefin lemon shark.

I open my eyes and sigh. You thought I’d already fallen asleep and was having a nice dream, eh? I know it sounds like it, but I was simply thinking about an afternoon out in the mangrove forest of Baie Laraie on Curieuse. I love the mangroves. I love the Brugueiria gymnorhiza with its knee roots that look like stepping stones through the water when the forest is flooded. I love the Avicennia marina with its snorkel roots, which seem to collapse under the weight of my footsteps, but always stay strong. And I love the Xylocarpus granatum and molluccencis that make the mangrove forest look like you stepped into a myth with their fairytale roots. I really enjoy walking through the mangroves, and I am really happy that we have to pass them for every survey we are heading to. Whether we are going to the Ranger’s Station to tickle some tortoises, go ‘sharking’ in Pat’s Pool or walk to Anse Badamier or Grand Anse for a beach check, we always have to walk through the mangroves.

Ilona5After this ode to the mangroves it probably does not surprise you that I have chosen to do my GVI internship on a topic nothing less than… the mangrove forest. By making this decision I have had even more opportunities to go to the mangrove forest and explore it more deeply. The exact size of the mangrove forest on Curieuse was unknown, so with a GPS device in my hand and staff member Pete as my wise companion, I walked around both the front and the rear border of the forest marking waypoints to make a precise map. After doing this, I can say that I have literally seen every little corner of the mighty mangroves on Curieuse, with all its beautiful trees and lovely creatures that are living there.