Planet ocean

Planet Ocean on Facebook  Planet Ocean on Instagram  Planet Ocean on Youtube

Approximately 110 nautical miles in the northwest of the northern tip of Madagascar there are two small islands – Ile Glorieuse, the bigger one, and Ile de Lys, the smaller one. The islands belong to France and after having been a military base they are now a protected area administered by Reunion. Since there are a few very interesting islands north of Madagascar and we were not sure which one we would visit - due to weather and wind conditions - we didn't apply for a permit anywhere.
So on our second day we were visited by the French police on a small boat full of military personnel. The police man was very friendly but due to the regulations pointed out to us that we were anchoring on French territory in a protected area so we need a special permit. In short: we should leave right away! After talking with him, where we tell him who we are and that we would really like to stay a little longer to look at the coral reef and the breeding colony of birds, he allows us to stay the rest of the day and another night.


We are anchoring in the big sandy lagoon of Ile de Lys behind the coral reef which connects the two islands. In the beautiful and deep turquoise waters we discover a little baby turtle which is swimming by our boat and is lifting it's head out of the water once in a while. We also see plenty of grown turtles swimming in the lagoon.

09_ Sooty_terns_oing_some_mating_dance

We are looking forward to visit the island since there are so many birds flying around. Ile de Lys has a huge breeding colony of sooty terns (Terna fuscata) which are currently feeding there young ones or mating again. They mostly sit on the ground or on bushes. The young ones also sit there waiting for the parents to feed them with fresh fish. Compared to the adults which have a distinct black and white pattern they have brown feathers sprinkled with white dots. On the rocks we also find some black noddies (Anous minutus) with there very small chicks. The chicks are sitting in a small pit on the limestone rocks and are guarded by one parent while the other looks for food. In the back country of the island there are mudflats with lots of crabs and waders. On the sandy shore we find some turtle nests of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) as well as parts of their skeleton and egg shells.  
The coral reefs seem to be in a good shape although we find evidence that there has been a bleaching event not long ago - maybe 10 to 15 years back. Because most of the coral colonies are small but healthy. And there are lots of fish around with only the sharks missing. Once in a while we see a shark fin on the surface but never under water.
We enjoy our time and go snorkeling as well us observe the birds on our first real bird island. The noise of the birds is very loud and sometimes lots of them lift up in the air like a dark cloud. A beautiful place where we would have liked to stay a little longer.