Underwater tales from marine biologist at Halaveli

Robin Aiello, renowned marine biologist, is at Constance Halaveli this month. Enjoy tales of her underwater adventures and find out more about your dive buddies with the special creature features she’s writing for us during her stay.

Robin Aiello

Robin Aiello

Arriving at Halaveli

It is hard to believe that I have been on this wonderful island for a week already. Time is passing too quickly and tere is so much to do, and see, and explore.

I arrived last Sunday to the resort by seaplane – which in itself is a fabulous experience with wonderful views of the reefs and lagoons while enroute.

I’m staying in a Water Villa. It’s spectacular, and for me, living somewhere I can step out onto my deck and down a few stairs directly into the ocean for a snorkel is a dream come true.

Within the first few minutes of snorkelling from my deck I encountered a school of silver mullet fish hungrily feeding at the surface of the water, saw several baby blacktip reef sharks (only about 40cm long, so they were only a few days old), and spotted a manta ray passing by. Wow! What a start to my month on the island.

While I’m at Halaveli, I’ll be working with the TGI Dive Center guiding dives and snorkels and sharing all my expertise on coral reefs and the animals living there.

One of the things that has really impressed me is the diversity of the marine life on the reefs that we visit. There is just so much to see. During my stay, I’lll be writing a series of Creature Features in which I want to highlight some of the lesser well-known creatures that you can easily see while diving and snorkeling. I hope you enjoy the fun facts.

Creature Feature 1

Redtooth Triggerfish at Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Redtooth Triggerfish at Halaveli

The Redtooth Triggerfish (Odonus niger)
Also known as Black Triggerfish or Niger Triggerfish

As soon as you put your head into the waters on any of the reefs here, you can see why people come back for diving over and over again to the Maldives. The ocean is full of marine life – in every imaginable shape and colour. It is like being inside a large aquarium.

All around you fish dart to and fro – some are very curious and even change direction to pass close to your mask and look you right in the eye.

Many people ask me which is my favourite fish, and to be honest, I cannot choose – they are each so beautiful and interesting in their own way. But there is one fish that I have developed a great fondness for since being here in Halaveli – the Redtooth Triggerfish. To me, these are incredibly endearing.

Their behaviour

These fish are schooling fish that feed on zooplankton floating in the water, so they form massive groups of hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals. They hang off the edge of the reef, forming a ‘halo’ around it.

All triggerfish are easily recognised by the way they swim – they undulate their ventral (top) fin and dorsal (bottom) fin from side to side, so it almost looks like flags flapping in the breeze. When there are hundreds of fish doing this all at once, the motion is mesmerising – like a fish ballet.

Although on first glance they do not look like this would be an effective way to swim, these fish are actually highly maneuverable. They flit around in the water column catching small zooplankton (small animals that float in the ocean). In fact, when you take a close look at these fish, you can see that their tiny little mouths are upturned, pointing upwards, which makes it easier for them to grab zooplankton floating by.

Recognising the Redtooth Triggerfish

Redtooth Triggerfish

Redtooth Triggerfish

The Redtooth Triggerfish is known by many names, including Niger or Black Triggerfish. Although they can reach up to 30cm long, they are generally much smaller – about the size of you hand.

Their colours vary greatly depending on the light conditions. When schooling in deep, blue waters they appear black, but in good sunlight you can see their true bright blue or teal green colouration. And, yes, when you get a close up look at the teeth, they are in fact a dark red colour (no one seems to know why they are red). Around the head they have delicate lines that create a beautiful facial tattoo. However, for me, the most beautiful part of these fish are their long lyre-shaped tails that wave in the currents.

The triggerfish spine

All triggerfish have a shared characteristic – a spine (the ‘trigger’) on their forehead. This is a special spine that they can erect and lock into place with a second spine – much like a trigger on a gun, hence the name ‘triggerfish’.

They use this unique feature in two ways. One is for defense against being eaten by predatory fish. Imagine a fish’s surprise if it tries to swallow a triggerfish and suddenly it gets spiked in their throat by the ‘trigger’ spine.

But the most important use of the ‘trigger’ spine is for tightly wedging themselves into coral crevices or small holes in the reef while they sleep (yes…reef fish DO sleep). To stay safe, these fish find their own personal hole or crevice in the reef to hide out in. The spaces are usually so narrow that the fish need to wiggle into them by turning sideways.

Once inside the hole (usually all you can see are thee tips of the tail sticking out) the triggerfish erect their ‘trigger’ spine to lock themselves in place. In this way, any predatory fish, like a reef shark who hunts sleeping fish, cannot grab and tug them out from their holes.

When the triggerfish are ready to leave the holes, they release the ‘trigger’, lower the spine and wiggle their way out – backwards! (Yes…these are one of the few fish that I have seen that can swim tail-first!

So the next time you are diving on one of the reefs around Halaveli, take a moment to observe these little triggerfish.

Catch up later in the week…

…with more of Robin’s Creature Feature specials or find out more about Robin’s work and her visit to Halaveli.

Constance sommeliers trained by leading winemakers Thierry Germain and Stephane Derenoncourt

As part of our exciting Art de Vignes week our sommeliers had the wonderful opportunity of receiving training from Thierry Germain and Stephane Derenoncourt.

Sunset at North Beach

Sunset at North Beach

One of the world’s leading wine consultants and producers, Stephane Derenoncourt of Domaine de l’A was keen to talk about the benefits of Biodynamic wine producing techniques.

Thierry Germain, of the acclaimed domaine de Roches Neuves, is also an advocate of Biodynamic farming and explained to our sommeliers how he used his vineyard’s natural resources without pesticides and synthetic fertilisers to cultivate the highest quality grapes.

Wine menu

In honour of their visit Chef Aviraj collaborated with the sommelier team to create a menu based around the wines of Domaine des Roches Neuves.

  • Chef Aviraj aperitif selection – served with Samur, Bulles de Roche, 2010
  • Chilled red mullet fillet, green apple and citrus cigar – served with Saumur, L’insolite, 2011
  • Lightly smoked ‘bourgeois’ fish wrapped in Serrano ham, breadfruit scoop, glazed vegetable and red wine sauce – served with Saumur Champigny, La Marginale, 2010
  • Cherry surprise – served with Saumur Champigny, Terres Chaudes, 2011

More about Biodynamic wine growing

The term ‘Biodynamic’ refers to an agricultural movement defined by Dr. Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. The goal of biodynamic wine growing is to get a vineyard to be as self-sustaining as possible, using waste products from one area to be used as fuel for another area. It’s a system that looks at the vineyard as a living organism itself from the soil to the sun, all working in harmony towards a well-balanced ecosystem that is self-sustaining.

Biodynamic wines and growing practices go beyond organic farming methods and focus on soil sustainability and viability via crop rotation, composting, non-chemical interventions for pest management and astronomical cycles to provide continual vineyard input. This emphasis often means the qualities of biodynamic wine offer more balance, clarity and depth of aromas and flavours.

Find out more about Thierry Germain and Domaine des Roches Neuves  and Stephane Derenoncourt and his philosophy of wine.

 

Fill up on Indian Ocean sunshine this Easter

After a long, cold winter, Easter is the perfect time of year to treat yourself to some guaranteed sunshine.

Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Across the Indian Ocean you can expect up to 9 hours of glorious sunshine every day in April, with average temperatures ranging from 29-32ºC.

Feel the sun on your face as you lie back and relax on picture-perfect white sand beaches. Then kick start a personal renaissance as you reboot body and mind, and enjoy our range of water sports, spa treatments, fitness classes and deliciously healthy menus.

Madagascar
Constance Tsarabanjina is celebrating its own rebirth this April as it emerges transformed from a multi-million pound refurbishment. It’s the perfect time to come and experience the new barefoot luxury feel of the resort. Find out more about the revamped barefoot chic of Tsarabanjina.

Seychelles
In the Seychelles, April is known as the calmest, warmest month as the winds die down and start to change direction, making it an idyllic time to visit Constance Lémuria and Ephélia.

April to May is also considered one of the best times to explore the stunning marine life which teems through the waters of the archipelago – with water temperatures at a delightful 29ºC and visibility excellent at around 30 metres. This is also the beginning of the big game fishing season in the Seychelles.

Constance Ephelia, Seychelles

Constance Ephelia, Seychelles

Maldives
Easter is an ideal time to visit Moofushi and Halaveli in the Maldives as April is one of the ‘iruvai’ or ‘dry-season’ months. Guests can enjoy calm seas lapping against their luxury water villas, and dive and snorkel in water with temperatures of around 30ºC.

Mauritius
At the exclusive Le Prince Maurice and the vibrant Belle Mare Plage in Mauritius, there are 2 championship golf courses, superb spas, great selection of restaurants and the lure of stunning reefs off the East coast of the island.

Find out more

Revive your spirit and get yourself back on track this Easter. Visit our website to find out more and check availability at all resorts – Constance Hotels & Resorts.

Read about our Secluded hotels and resorts with passion

And check the best time to visit the Indian Ocean: Responsible Travel.

The Sunday Times names Tsarabanjina and Moofushi in world’s best 20 all-inclusives

The Sunday Times this week highlighted Constance Moofushi and Tsarabanjina as offering truly all-inclusive packages.

Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Susan d’Arcy applauds the Cristal package at our resorts for genuinely ‘including everything’, lamenting how other resorts claim to be all inclusive but go on to charge guests for everything from bottled water to Mars bars.

The praise for Tsarabanjina and Moofushi came in an article outlining the 20 best all-inclusive packages around the world.

D’Arcy defined all inclusive as meaning, ‘You’ll get the drinks you want, endless fabulous food – often à la carte and, if not, of the highest quality and freshly prepared – and free wi-fi.’

Subscribers to The Sunday Times can read Susan d’Arcy’s article in full: ‘All inclusives – minus the hidden extras‘.

And in The Financial Times

The FT was also singing the praises of Tsarabanjina this week in ‘How to spend it‘ describing the resort’s new refurbishment as bringing a luxury element to Madagascan tourism.

Find out more about Moofushi and Tsarabanjina

 

Constance Le Prince Maurice wins 2013 Trip Advisor Travellers’ Choice Awards

Constance Le Prince Maurice has won the 2013 Trip Advisor Travellers’ Choice Award in 3 categories.

Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

Beach perfect

According to Trip Advisor, only 1% of all accommodation listed on Trip Advisor this year has been given the Travellers’ Choice Award.

Constance Le Prince Maurice has won in the following categories:

Constance Le Prince Maurice has been winning over regulars and new guests alike since its major refurbishment last year, securing its reputation as one of the most intimate and enticing luxury hotels in the Indian Ocean.

Trip Advisor review

The perfect honeymoon destination bar none

‘My wife took charge of my initial honeymoon planning attempts and vetoed my original blueprint of Sri Lanka book ending the Maldives…

Suite on Stilts at Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

Suite on Stilts at Le Prince Maurice

We stayed at Constance Le Prince Maurice for the second week and absolutely loved it. Amazing rooms, decor, ambience, attention to detail, food, discreet but friendly staff, surrounds. Only blemish was one day of adverse weather.

Was I upset we missed the Maldives? No. This is an ultimate Indian Ocean honeymoon destination that will blow your socks off.’ Read the whole review.

Find out more 

 

Bid to dine at Michelin star restaurants in our online charity auction

In celebration of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau, we are holding an online charity auction, offering exclusive dinners for two at a selection of Michelin-star restaurants across Europe.

Inside Chez Bruce, London

Inside Chez Bruce, London

All proceeds from the charity auction will go to a ground breaking school for disadvantaged teenagers in Mauritius – Etoile de Mer.

The online auction will start on 18 March and run for five days to mark the Culinary Festival.

Each lucky bidder will win an exclusive dinner for two at one of a selection of Michelin-star restaurants, including London’s Chez Bruce.

How to take part

Join us on Facebook, Twitter or here on the blog to find out more about how to take part in the auction when it launches on 18 March 2013.

The charity - Etoile de Mer

At Constance, we have supported the Mauritian school for teenagers, Etoile de Mer, for some years. Now, with your support, we can help the school expand so the founder, Christine Baudot, can take in more children. Currently demand is far in excess of the number of places available.

The school welcomes children from 12 years old who come from deprived families living in the neighbourhood, and who have struggled in their primary education.

The school’s proven non-academic approach is enabling pupils to thrive as they build self-confidence and personality, teaching them non-vocational skills, as well as how to read and write.

Find out more

Visit us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest Constance news, competitions and offers, including the launch of this online charity auction.

Find out more about the 2013 Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau.