The marine life in Bird Island’s waters is rich and divers, with various fish, turtles, crustaceans, octopi, and sea mammals; but certain ones stand out.
Green Turtles are an endangered species that are protected in and around the waters off Bird Island. Throughout the year they visit our shores to lay their eggs, but are more commonly seen from June to September. Every few years, they migrate long distances to their nesting beaches around Bird Island. They are more often seen coming ashore in the evenings. There is minimal exterior lighting on Bird Island so as to encourage the Green turtles to lay. This makes it harder to spot them, but whenever our conservation officer encounters one, guests are informed and are welcomed to come and watch this amazing sea turtle.
At Bird Island a small group of juvenile Green turtles frequent Passe Coco. It is the ideal habitat of shallow waters rich in sea grass. Guests may not get the opportunity to see a nesting Green Turtle, but the juveniles are always about. Find out more here.
Critically endangered Hawksbill turtles can also be found in our waters. Great care is taken for Bird Island to be their safe haven as well as for all other marine life.
The Hawksbill nesting season runs from October to February, and at its peak in December (check our calendar), up to five Hawksbill Turtles a day come out of the sea and up the beach to dig a nest and lay their eggs. It is unusual not to see a Hawksbill turtle laying during the months of October to January. Likewise from mid December to mid March, not to see their hatchlings emerging. Very often, you will find the same female Hawksbill Turtles returning to the same beach season after season.
Bottlenose dolphins are more commonly found around Bird Island, one of the most well-known species of dolphin; and occasionally we may see spinner dolphins frolicking in our waters. Most species live in shallow areas of tropical and temperate oceans throughout the world. Dolphins are highly intelligent and friendly creatures; and they are also quite energetic, often found bow-riding when the boat is taken out.
The dolphin is a sociable animal, living in groups numbering between 10 and 100 individuals; even larger groups may form offshore. Spotting the visiting pods of dolphins makes for quite an exciting experience.
What about Whales?
During the calmer months of October to November, whales migrate past Bird Island. During this time a lucky few may be privileged enough to see Southern Right whales, Humpbacks and Short-finned Pilot whales.
Humpbacks are the most likely whales to be spotted. Since their protection from whaling, a small aggregation have been sighted around the Mascarene and Seychelles Islands. Each year, these whales undertake the longest annual migration of any mammal. They travel thousands of kilometres from polar regions to the tropics where they come to breed. Short-finned pilot whales may also be spotted as they prefer warm, deep waters, typically around the outer edges of the continental shelf.
Southern right Whales are normally found outside of our region, but there have been recent sightings indicating an expansion in their population. These whales are large and slow moving and were thus targeted in the days of whaling. We may come across this species during their migratory period where they travel up north from wintry southern waters to breed.