Awe-Inspiring Encounters: Scuba Diving with Tortoises in Seychelles

Seychelles: A Diver's Utopia

Picture yourself in a land where the boundaries between fantasy and reality blur—Seychelles, the epitome of paradise. With its velvety beaches, crystal-clear waters, and abundant marine life, this tropical haven is a diver’s utopia. As you embark on your scuba diving adventure, get ready to discover an underwater realm that holds the promise of awe-inspiring encounters.

Beneath the Waves: Meet the Magnificent Tortoises

Whoever said tortoises were slow clearly never met the ones in Seychelles! These giants of the ocean gracefully glide through the water, defying their land reputation. The Aldabra giant tortoises, unique to this part of the world, have captivated divers and marine enthusiasts for years. With their ancient, serene presence, they are like living relics of prehistoric times.

When we say “giant tortoises,” we mean GIANT! These gentle behemoths, part of the Aldabra species, can weigh up to a whopping 600 pounds and measure over four feet in length. It’s hard not to be mesmerized by their prehistoric charm and the wisdom that seems to emanate from their eyes.

Once thriving on various Indian Ocean islands and even continents, these gentle giants faced threats from human exploitation and were believed to be extinct by 1840, with one exception—the Aldabran giant tortoise of Aldabra Atoll.

Genetic evidence reveals that the Aldabra giant tortoise, scientifically known as A. gigantea, shares its ancestry with the extinct Aldabrachelys abrupta from Madagascar, dating back approximately 4.5 million years. Today, the Aldabra species finds sanctuary on the Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles, boasting the world’s largest population of these magnificent tortoises—around 100,000 individuals.

Aldabra giant tortoises occurrence map

These remarkable creatures have also found refuge in other regions, such as Frégate Island and the Sainte Anne Marine National Park in Seychelles, where they have become a beloved tourist attraction. Additionally, an isolated population resides on Changuu Island, near Zanzibar, while conservation parks in Mauritius and Rodrigues harbor captive populations.

Aldabra giant tortoises are versatile eaters, primarily consuming grasses, leaves, woody plant stems, and fruits, though they may occasionally indulge in small invertebrates and carrion. In captivity, they’ve been observed enjoying fruits like apples and bananas and even learning to catch birds, as a female on Fregate Island demonstrated.

Aldabra giant tortoises with its baby

These majestic tortoises are known to roam individually or gather in herds on open grasslands, most active during the morning when they graze and forage for food. As the heat of the day intensifies, they retreat to wallows, shade trees, small caves, or pools to stay cool.

Remarkably, Aldabra giant tortoises are among the longest-lived animals, with some individuals speculated to be over 200 years old. Their mating season spans from February to May, and females lay between 9 and 25 hard-shelled eggs in deep nests between July and September. After about eight months of incubation, the tiny, independent hatchlings emerge between October and December, ready to embark on their own adventures.

Aldabra giant tortoise relaxing on the beach

The Dive of a Lifetime

As you don your scuba gear and take that exhilarating plunge into the turquoise depths, anticipation fills the air. Accompanied by experienced guides, you’ll venture to the secret haunts of these colossal creatures. It’s a journey that will unveil a whole new dimension of awe and admiration.

Once you encounter the giant tortoises face-to-face, prepare for a magical connection that transcends species. Despite their massive size, they exude an aura of serenity and friendliness. You’ll be captivated as they glide gracefully through the water, seemingly weightless, like living poetry in motion.

Witnessing these majestic beings navigate their aquatic domain is akin to attending a spectacular underwater ballet. Their movements are surprisingly nimble and elegant, a true testament to their adaptability despite their terrestrial origins. It’s a sight that will stay etched in your memory forever.

While the Aldabra giant tortoises steal the show, Seychelles also hosts an array of other captivating turtle species. Keep your eyes peeled for the mesmerizing hawksbill turtles, the gentle green turtles and the incredible loggerhead turtles. Each one has a unique charm that adds to the tapestry of marine life in Seychelles.

6 Tips for a Memorable Dive

1. Dive Season: Plan your adventure between April and November when the waters are calmer and visibility is at its best. During these months, Seychelles enjoys its dry season, offering the ideal conditions for scuba diving. You’ll have a better chance to encounter the giant tortoises and other marine marvels in their full glory. And if you are looking for a hotel offer in this period, we recommend you to browse the offer of Las Villas de Charme or Villa de Charme Elégance.

2. Be Respectful: Remember that you’re a guest in the underwater realm of these magnificent creatures. While the giant tortoises may be friendly and curious, it’s crucial to maintain a safe distance and avoid any attempts to touch or disturb them. Admire their grace from a respectful vantage point, allowing them to carry on with their natural behaviors undisturbed.

3. Underwater Camera: Don’t forget to bring an underwater camera or a reliable waterproof housing for your equipment. Capturing the mesmerizing moments spent with the giant tortoises and the vibrant marine life will allow you to relive the magic of Seychelles long after you’ve surfaced.

Loggerhead Turtle swimming in ocean's water
Loggerhead Turtle

4. Follow Your Guide: Trust in the expertise of your guides, who know the best dive sites, the ideal times to visit them, and how to ensure both your safety and that of the marine environment. Their knowledge and passion will enrich your dive and help you make the most of your time in Seychelles’ aquatic wonderland.

5. Buoyancy Control: Mastering your buoyancy is key to enhancing your dive experience. Practicing good buoyancy control not only prevents accidental contact with fragile corals and marine life but also allows you to move fluidly, getting up close to the wonders of the ocean without causing harm.

6. Dive with an Open Heart: Finally, remember that diving is not merely a physical experience; it’s an emotional and spiritual journey too. Dive with an open heart, be receptive to the profound connections you may forge with the creatures and the environment, and let the beauty of Seychelles ignite a sense of wonder and appreciation for the natural world.

Unveil the Wonders of Seychelles

Dear adventurers, scuba diving with tortoises in Seychelles is a journey beyond imagination, where the underwater world unfolds its enchanting secrets. As you emerge from this captivating expedition, carry the wonder of Seychelles in your heart, knowing there’s more to explore!

Why stop at just one adventure? Extend your stay and explore more of Seychelles with fantastic accommodation offers from Happy diving and creating lifelong memories in Seychelles! 

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