Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Stunning landscapes

The Grande Terre is the 3rd largest island of the Pacific and is known to have one of the largest lagoons in the World, with a well-conserved coral reef (at least in comparison to other places in the World), with over 1,000 fish recorded. So it’s a heaven for snorkeling! But beware!!- there are some nasty things under water, like the “tricot rayé,” a snake whose venom is deadly, same for the “Poisson Pierre” whose dorsal fin injects a deadly venom if one steps on it, the beautiful seashell “Cone” also has a deadly venom… I had always wanted to scuba dive, so I surpassed the initial fear of these deadly animals and put on a wet-suit, goggles, the tanks- and took an intro course in Noumea. And now I can say that I’m addicted!!! Being under water is such a wonderful feeling, time seems to go much slower, actually no, there is no time. Under water, life takes on so many different shapes and colors- the light pink anemones with long tentacules, brown sea cucumbers (which look like a loaf of bread), the red and white clown fish (Nemo is everywhere!), the multi-color parrot fish, the fan-corals, the peaceful and sleepy reef sharks, the remoras, ... it's really beautiful! Unfortunately, I have no pictures to show. And anyway, pictures just capture these shapes and colors, while there is so much more to it! The silence, or should I say, the sound of your own breathing, the reaction of the fish when they see you (some stare, others leave rapidly), the feeling of water- floating, i guess it would be a bit like in space. The first time I saw the drop, 20 meters underwater, where the coral reef stops and the ground is really really deep, I was strangely attracted to that deep seemingly infinite blue. It seemed so impenetrable, but I remember thinking that yeah, it wouldn't be such a horrible death (as people often talk of the divers' syndrome) to go deeper and deeper and deeper.... So I quickly went back to the group.


Since I don't have any pictures of the under water world, here are a few of the water from above:

Turquoise water in l'Ile des Pins

La Baie d'Upi in l'Ile des Pins


La Baie d'Upi in l'Ile des Pins

Baie de Kanumera in l'Ile des Pins (I was camping just next to that beach)

On land, the biodiversity is also very large, especially the flora with 3380 indigenous species, 80% of which are endemic! For example of the 19 araucaria species known in the world, 13 come from New Caledonia. One of them is the "pin colonaire" which is found profusely throughout the territory and more especially on l'Ile des Pins (hence the name!). And so there are huge possibilities to find new medicinal plants and for sure scents as well.

The famous pins colonaires, but that picture was taken in the Baie des Tortues in Bourail on the Grande Terre.


La "Roche Percee" in Bourail, a couple of hours north of Noumea.

La Poule (the hen) de Hienghene.


A sunset on the way to Hienghene.

I was personally amazed by all the flowers. Here are a few I liked (if you know what type they are, let me know and I'll add the names). Too bad I came after the flowering season of the famous flamboyants. I had a chance to see one of them, covered with its red flowers, it seemed that it had pulled on a bright red comforter.



A "salmon-colored" hibiscus- there are so many different colors of hibiscus in New Caledonia (white, red, pink, salmon, purple...)

A red one


In French we call it "Queue de chat", or "Cat-tail"



1 Comments:

Anonymous Elizabeada said...

Just foud your blog via Perfume of Life. I know several of these flowers because they grow here in Hawaii. this being a multicultural paradise, the common names come from all over the world, as do most of the plants.
the first one the yellow one, is known here as Allamanda,
the second one, the red one is an Erythrina, which here in Hawaii is usually a tree- one of the few that lose its leaves completely during the winter, i have seen them in white, red, and orange.
the last one the pink one, is called here Jatropha,and the sap is highly poisonous. it is a scruffy shrub in our yard, but salt spray tolerant.

4:46 PM  

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