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The Seychelles: Earth's Last Eden

俞祎君 Aggi Yu 2018-06-16 16:09

Exploration during the twentieth century was defined by two frontiers – space and the ocean. As Star Trek states in its introductory speech, “to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!” So too the mysteries of the ocean have provided never-ending opportunities for exploration. 


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Like pearls scattered over the ocean, the Seychelles is a country with 115 islands, and is characterized by a warm climate, soothing zephyrs and Eden-like landscapes. 


Troubled Islands 


Having declared independence in 1976, the Seychelles is a young country, and one of the smallest in the world. Compared to its one million km² of water territory, the land area stands at just 400 km². Without question, the country’s economy heavily relies upon the ocean. However, this dependence on the ocean has proved problematic in recent years – overfishing, bleached corals and endangered species have placed the country in a precarious environmental predicament. Additionally, the Seychelles has been plagued with serious national debt for years. 


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In order to help lend a helping hand, the Nature Conservancy proposed a creative nature-protection project that mortgaged the country’s debts by establishing new ocean reserves. That is to say, the Seychelles builds nature reserves in order to receive subsidies from the organization. Eventually, the Seychelles government revealed two reserve areas totalling 210, 000 km² – roughly the size of the UK. By 2022, the area will be expanded to 410, 000 km². 


Living in Paradise 


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About 65 million years ago, land drifted from the Indian continent and partially sank beneath the sea. What remained above water became populated with animal species unique to the remarkably diverse islands, which span from misty mountains to marvellous beaches. Recently, newly-built ocean reserves have made the Seychelles into a paradise for global travellers. 


At the outskirt of the country’s territory lie the Aldabra islands. Located 1150 km southwest of Mahé, this group of coral islands count 74,400 km² of water area in the reserve agreement. This area is constituted with four major coral islands and a lagoon enclosed within. More than 150,000 Aldabra giant tortoises inhabit the islands, along with many other endangered oceanic species. The other ocean reserve is located in the 136,000 km² deep sea area around Amirantes Islands. This is the geographical centre of Seychelles, and also a key area of tourism and fishing. 


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Aside from the aforementioned two reserves, Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve, 45 km northeast of Mahé, is also a favoured destination. Dubbed the “smallest natural heritage in the world,” from April to September the cool and dry weather is perfect for travel. The primitive coconut forest and Anse Lazio beach, along with amazing sub-marine sceneriees, attract tourists all day long during peak season. Visit during morning and dusk to avoid crowds. 


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100 km north of Mahé lies the tiny Bird Island. This is the perfect place to encounter rare animals, including all kinds of sea birds and Aldabra tortoises. From June to September, millions of sooty tern seabirds gather here to conclude their reproductive cycles. 


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While marvelling at the paradisiacal views, it goes without saying that visitors are requested to act in an environmentally responsible manner. This means no littering, and refraining from picking up shells and corals. 


Low-Carbon Travel 


From The Cove’s heart-breaking exposé, to Jacques Perrin’s Oceans, and the BBC’s Blue Planet… More and more nature documentaries have placed focus on marine environments to remind the public of marine pollution, and raise awareness for its protection. 


As such, low-carbon tourism has already emerged as a popular approach to travel. Here are some ways that you can conserve the planet, while still enjoying its splendours. 


Taking flights unavoidably emits large amounts of greenhouse gases. However, you can make a difference by choosing public transport when on land. If your neighbourhood provides shared bicycle services, try it and enjoy the fun of local street life. 


Most hotels provide free bathroom amenities. Don’t just take it for granted to use disposable products as freely as you can. Start by bringing your own toothbrush and toothpaste, and by not requesting renewed sheets and towels daily. 


Don’t forget to switch your home to ‘Holiday Mode’ before you leave. Turn off all the lights and unplug appliances to reduce unnecessary power consumption. 



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