Tis the southeast season…

We are in the midst of the southeast monsoon season and some strange things are happening in Petite Anse bay.

Foamy headlands

The northern point of Petite Anse bay with the sea foam of the southeast monsoon

On the walk down to the picnic table in the morning we get a good view of the bay; our first hint towards the snorkelling conditions for the day. At this time of year it is variable. The outline of the reef can be crystal clear and the water can be flat and calm, or there can be a large swell and breaking waves churning up the sandy sea bed and the reef can hardly be seen.

Sea foam line

A line of sea foam stretches from point to point across Petite Anse bay

Also noticed from this viewpoint is the amount of sea foam. Check out the photo to see the bay completely enclosed, and more often than not there is a lot of sea foam around the rocky headlands. Guests at the resort are full of questions as to what sea foam is and where it comes from. Is it just the breaking of the waves? Is it pollutants and dirt from the water? To clear things up, sea foam is dissolved organic matter that has been agitated resulting in a foam substance that sits on the top of the water, it’s not especially pleasant to swim through but it is completely natural and not at all harmful.

Once you’re in the water there are some other changes that have occurred.

Murky water!

Murky waters of the southeast season hiding all sorts of exciting sightings!

Temperature in the water has dropped. It seems ridiculous commenting on the temperature given the cool waters of the UK where I am from, but the now ‘refreshing’ 26 degree Celsius water is enough to make us struggle into our wetsuits for diving and race for the hot showers after a snorkel!

Then there is the plankton. These microscopic creatures are causing all sorts of trouble – reducing visibility and sometimes stinging our skin. But where you have plankton – the base of the food chain – you have a whole lot of other life! Fish and squid are taking us by surprise, appearing just a metre or so in front of our faces and with this sense that you really don’t know is coming next, it is an exciting time for snorkelling! Navigating in the cloudy water during dives can be a bit of a challenge though and certainly keeps our compass skills sharp. But it is definitely a love-hate relationship with an emphasis on ‘love’ as the plankton heralds the arrival of whale shark and manta ray season. Several sightings have already been reported on the island and we can’t wait for the season to be in full swing!

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