Sea snakes, turtles and Napoleon fish in Nouméa

One of the best things about living in the South Pacific is the marine life. The marine life, the plants, the flowers and the colours that are found nowhere else in the world.

Another wonderful part of living in New Caledonia in particular is the amount of stuff you can get done before noon. I mentioned in a previous post that life starts early here, and early it does. For example, I was working at 7am this morning. By 10am, Pablo and I were at the local aquarium. By 12 noon, lunch was consumed and the day had only just begun!

With today’s second visit to Nouméa’s Aquarium des Lagons in 2 months, we were even more enchanted.

This time we purchased one of the aquarium activity booklets for 3-6 year olds for just over 1€ and away we went. We spent nearly 2 hours in what we consider to be a fairly small aquarium (compared to those found in Paris, Brest and Monterey), observing the fish and crabs and nautiluses very, very closely, drawing them, studying them and discovering extraordinary facts about them. We happen to love aquariums, but this visit outdid many of our other aquarium visits, by a long shot.

We solved the mangrove crab mystery we’d been pondering; spied an enormous, sleeping leopard shark, hidden from all of the other visitors; oooed and ahhhhed, stumbling in the dark, upon fluorescent coral and flashlight fish; and photographed and drew again and again the Napoleon fish, the Picasso fish and the marine angel fish (among goodness knows how many others!).

But our favourite part? The turtle (who seemed to want to escape the tank and follow us home) and the sea snakes! The aquarium had just released 45 turtles into the sea earlier that week (who will be tracked thanks to tracking technology), and this last one seemed to be at odds. We’d never seen a turtle so clearly and up close. It swam unceasingly along the side of the tank, watching our every move. We watched its eyes open and close as it came up to the surface, we observed its beak-like mouth and the way it swam and dove through the water.

We were also fascinated by the sea snakes (tricot rayés), which though extremely lethal, are very beautiful. We watched them on land and in water (they live on both and can swim underwater for 1 hour with just 1 breath), twisting and turning, swimming with grace, at times with the turtle, at times on their own. Their heads are indeed tiny (which makes them hard to bite you and thus kill you; this being said, their mouths are quite wide) and they are very easily spotted. Quite common here, the locals leave them alone, which is best (there is no antidote for their venom). Pablo spotted one in the sea here within weeks of arriving and was so thrilled to see one in the wild. I’ve promised to take him to Phare Amédée, where he will see many, many more.

If you are at all interested in marine life found only here in New Caledonia, we recommend a visit to this aquarium. We’ll most likely be back again and again, for life is so very interesting here!


4 thoughts on “Sea snakes, turtles and Napoleon fish in Nouméa

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