Mauritius - Sugarcane Fields, Coral Reefs and the Sega


Travel pictures from Mauritius

by Dr. Günther Eichhorn


Mauritius Map

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In June, 2001 I attended a UN conference on Basic Space Sciences in Mauritius. I had a chance to see the island during this visit and here are some of the pictures.

Mauritius is a fairly small island in the Indian ocean, about 1,000 km (600 miles) east of Madagascar. It is about 40 km (25 miles) across at the widest part and 60 km (37 miles) north to south. For its size it has a fairly large population of almost 1.2 million, which makes for pretty congested traffic conditions in a lot of places.

The island is mostly agricultural. It seems as if there is nothing but sugar cane fields on Mauritius. The island was home to the extinct dodo bird, as well as several other species that have been exterminated. The dodo was killed off by humans for food. Many other species were exterminated by introduced animals like the mongooses and the rats. Today there is only one small valley left with indigenous flora, and even there you can see eucalyptus trees, which certainly are not indigenous. A few of the indigenous species (most notably the Mauritius kestrel and the pink pigeon have so far survived, but are still in danger in spite of conservation efforts.

Mauritius is surrounded by a barrier coral reef. I did get to do one dive on the coral reef. It is nice, but by far not as spectacular as some other reefs that I have seen.

One interesting native Mauritian custom is the Sega dance. It is a dance that started among the slaves in the 18th century. It is a very sensual dance, accompanied by 3 instruments, the Ravane, the Maravane, and the Triangle. It is very interesting to watch.

The Mauritians are reasonably friendly, but not overly so. The service in restaurants and hotels was lousy to say the least. I was not at all impressed. You would expect better service in a country that depends quite a bit on tourism. The country is interesting to visit for a few days, but I would not want to spend a longer vacation there. But that is probably because I like to see different things and not just spend my time on the beach. After driving around the island for 2-3 days you have seen enough sugar cane fields and know every last part of Mauritius.

All pictures are © Dr. Günther Eichhorn

barrier reefMauritius is completely surrounded by a barrier reef. In the foreground you see the sugar cane fields. (543k)
reefView of the reef from shore.

sugarcane fieldSugarcane fields. This is what you see in many parts of Mauritius when you are driving along. (945k)
volcano craterThere are several extinct volcanoes. This is the view of one of the volcano craters. (795k)
waterfallThere are several interesting waterfalls. This one falls over a cliff of very nicely formed column basalt. (748k)
colored earthColored Earth. This spot is colored by various minerals. It shows some spectacular colors. (793k)
beach sceneThis type of scenery is mostly along the northern shore. (849k)
fishingFishing on the north shore.

big wavesOn the south-eastern and southern coast, the prevailing trade winds create a quite spectacular surf. (622k)
big waves2Another view of the big waves.

native valleyThis is a view of the only area with supposedly native vegetation. But even there you can see imported species like eucalyptus trees. (605k)
mountainThis was the highest mountain on Mauritius.

canonA canon on display on the south shore.

kidsThese kids liked having their picture taken.

racetrackThe racetrack in Port Louis was started in 1812. It is the oldest in the southern hemisphere, and supposedly the second oldest in the world.

trafficBicycle traffic

temple lakeIn the mountains in the center of Mauritius is a scenic lake with a Buddhist temple.

templeBuddhist temple.

temple2Decorations on the temple.

temple3Worshipers in the lake.

mangroveMangrove on the western shore.

agaveA flowering agave.

flower bushA flowering bush.

termitesA termites nest on a tree.


yellow butterflyA beautiful yellow butterfly

dragonflyA red dragonfly. Most of the dragonflies had this posture when they were sitting, with the wings pointed forward and down.

butterflyMany species are introduced from other countries, a lot of them from Madagascar. This butterfly is the same as one I saw on my trip to Madagascar (673k)
mating frogsIn one area the frogs were mating. Here you can see pairs of mating frogs. They stay together like that till the female is done with laying eggs. The male stays with the female to ensure that no other males will mate with her. (551k)
croaking frogThe mating frogs were croaking. You can see the throat sack that they use to make their calls. What a ruckus! The croaking is deafening. (294k)
weaverbird nestsOne type of birds are the weaver birds. They build these hanging woven nests. (509k)
birdsThis is a common type of bird on Mauritius. (793k)
pelicansIn one place I saw several Pelicans. They didn't seem to be very common. (582k)
mongooseIntroduced animals like this mongoose were the main culprits in exterminating a lot of the native animals. (1199k)

Following are some pictures from my Scuba diving trip. I had a regular camera, not a single-lens-reflex camera. Since I was using that camera for the first time, I had a lot of problems with the parallax between the view finder and the objective. But some of the pictures came out OK.

coralsCorals. (784k)
coral 2Corals and sea urchin. (702k)
brain coralBrain Coral. (740k)
blue fishA small school of bright blue fish around a brain coral.

pufferfishPufferfish. (722k)
angelfishAngelfish. (617k)
scorpionfishScorpion fish. This guy is pretty poisonous. (645k)
tubewormsTube worms. (717k)
anemone fish 2Sea Anemone and Clown fish. (664k)
anemone fish 1Sea Anemone and Clown fish. Sea anemones can sting pretty badly when you touch them. The clown fish is one of the few fish that can live in the arms of the anemone and not get stung. (861k)

Following are some pictures that I took during a Sega dance show. It is a very lively and sensuous dance.

sega dancer bandSega Dance Band

sega group 1Sega Dance Group. (709k)
triangleThe Triangle is a metal rod bent into a triangle shaped that is set to ring with a wooden stick. (721k)
maravanneThe Maravane is made out of perforated metal or wooden boards that are joined together forming a flat box. The box is filled with seeds. It creates a rasping sound when shaken. (639k)
ravanneThe Ravane is a large wooden ring covered with skin, similar to a tambourine but much larger and with a softer skin. (683k)
sega group 2There is a lot of skirt shaking during the Sega dance. (764k)
sega group 3Sega dancers. (730k)
sega dancer 2Sega dancer. (746k)
sega dancer 3Sega dancer. (683k)
sega dancer 1Sega dancer. (733k)
sega dancer 4Sega dancer. (776k)
sega dancer 5Sega dancer

sega dancer closeup 2Sega dancer closeup

sega dancer closeup 1Sega dancer closeup. (634k)

Following is something related to the professional part of my trip. Mauritius has a radio telescope. It is not one of the dishes that you may be used to, it operates at much longer wavelengths (2 m) and is composed of 1000 individual dipole antennas arranged in a T-shaped array with the top bar of the T about 1 km long and the stem about 500 m. The signals from 4 of the individual antenna dipoles are combined to gain sensitivity. These combined signals are then sent back to the control center where they are combined to build an image of the radio source.

radiotelescope arrayThis is a view along the top bar of the T-shaped antenna. It had to be built in several sections at different elevations because of the terrain. (1007k)
radiotelescope antennasThis is a view of the stem of the T. There are four antennas per cart. The carts are movable along the track. This allows the scientist to select different resolutions of the telescope. (732k)
radiotelescope beamlineThis is a view of the beam line of the radio telescope.

radiotelescope dipoleThis is a view of one of the individual dipole antennas. They are designed to receive circularly polarized radiation. (739k)

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