Au revoir, Mayotte

Well, actually, it might be adieu. We’re off tomorrow, and it seems unlikely we’ll be back. La Réunion, Mauritius, Madagascar, yes, but unless you’re a diving fanatic, there’s no imperative reason to come to Mayotte. Tourism isn’t exactly big business here.

Still, there are things I’ll miss. I’ve been posting on and off for the past couple of years about Mayotte, but never been very systematic. But guess what? I’ve finally started sorting my photos! So now I can bore you silly for months to come!

And where else to start than the sea? The Jacques Cousteau types had gigantic cameras that enabled them to distinguish different sorts of fish, but I just had a throwaway thing which only recognised one species – the Smudgefish. So I won’t show you too many of those.


With the equinox tides, the coral gets uncovered and you can walk a long way out and see things you wouldn’t normally see.

I don’t know what the spiky thing is below, but the sea cucumber’s cute, isn’t it?

The proper name for that particular cucumber is a holothuria atra, one of the commoner varieties. They’re considered a great delicacy in Asia, dried in China, often served raw in Japan. There are several ways to prepare it: konawata is salted intestines, konoko is dried ovaries. I know you’re dying for the recipes, but this isn’t a food blog. And anyway, cucumber fishing is illegal. You wouldn’t think it to look at them, but they’re vital for the ecosystem, breaking down detritus and dead organic matter in the sand, which then gets recycled into nutrient for algae and coral.

A couple more pictures? All right, since you insist. The dolphin photos were the easiest to sort – the one below was the only one I kept out of 362,412.


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  1. Wow, it must be a beautiful place to live. You know, I had never heard of the place until I read your manuscript? Beautiful descriptions have made me want to visit.

  2. Great pics!
    I’m with Ocean, I’d never heard of Mayotte either till I started reading your blog.
    I know what you mean about dolphins, but they’re just so darn cute and it’s so exciting to see them in the wild (water).
    Looking forward to your living in France stories now 😉

    • Thanks, Alba. That’s a generous comment about the pics! My excuse is the camera, an 8-year old compact. But now I’m back home with a proper one, I won’t be able to use that excuse any more 😖

  3. Will leaving Mayotte for good will set a different pace for your life? Your photographs are gorgeous, and I’m eager to see more, but I”m okay with no recipes. I have concluded some sea creatures are just not fit for human consumption — raw sea urchin, for example. The post card now holds a permanent place of honor on the mantle, honoring a bygone era.

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