Marine biologist reveals what’s underwater at Halaveli

This week’s instalment from marine biologist Robin Aiello sees her come face to face with the awe-inspiring whalesharks in the waters off Halaveli.

Whiptail Ray, Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Whiptail Ray

It has been another amazing week full of beautiful dives, snorkels, lagoon cruises and island walks. The weather has been clear and warm, and the seas so calm that you can do an entire marine biology session from the surface without even getting wet.
I have, in fact, been spending hours on the jetty with guests looking down into the sea and spotting some fantastic animals. We have many harmless blacktip reef sharks that slowly cruise back and forth under the jetty, whiptail rays that look almost like eagles flying through the water, unicorn fish with their long horns sticking out from their foreheads, long slender coronet fish with their huge extended mouths, and bluefin trevallies (also called jacks) chasing schools of small silver fish.

Bluefin Trevallies

The trevallies (jacks) always put on an exciting show for us as they stalk and hunt the small silver fish that form massive schools in the very shallow water at the beach.

Small groups of 3 – 6 bluefin trevallies swim up and down the beach, getting closer and closer to the shore and forcing the small fish to form tighter and tighter schools – it is like cowboys rounding up the cattle on a range.

Bluefin trevallies, Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Bluefin trevallies

They do this for some time, then, without any warning, there is a huge commotion. The trevallies have decided it is time to strike, and change direction at full speed (which is really really fast) and dash through the school, grabbing fish as they go. The small silver fish, in response, take off in all directions like a firework display. They will even jump out of the water and land on the beach in their sheer panic to get away.

But, there is no where for the small fish to hide. Suddenly other predatory fish join the feeding frenzy, and if that is not bad enough, the seabirds and herons fly in from all directions to join the mayhem and pounce on any fish they can. The whole frenzied activity lasts only a few seconds, but what excitement! Sometimes I feel sorry for the poor little fish!

An unplanned evening snorkel

Probably the most unusual thing that I have seen in a long time was spotted one evening from the jetty. I was heading to dinner, all dressed up, and one of the guests asked me what it was – I had no idea – didn’t even know if it was manmade or natural.

Diamondback squid egg case, Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Diamondback squid egg case

So I ran back to my villa and grabbed my snorkeling gear and jumped into the water.

This thing was weird! At first, I had no idea what it was. It was in constant motion, rolling around and undulating, but I soon discovered it was the water movement that caused it to move – it was not actually alive. It was slimy and felt like thick mucous, and to add to the bafflement, there were thousands of little pink/purple balls embedded in it.

Finally it dawned on me that it had to be some sort of egg case – most likely molluscan from either a snail or a squid. After a couple of hours of research I discovered that it was, in fact, the egg case of a very large squid that reaches a size of over 1 metre called the Diamondback Squid. This squid would have laid the egg case out in the lagoon and the tides, currents and waves washed it into the shallows. Very interesting.

Diving with whalesharks

Yesterday, though, was the real highlight of my whole visit – every Sunday the Dive Center offers a day trip to find and snorkel with whalesharks. And what a day we had!

Thanks to our amazing boat crew, and of course the legendary snorkel guide Santana, we had the wonderful experience of swimming with 3 large whalesharks. Amazing! It is no easy feat to find a whaleshark – since they are fish, they do not come to the surface to breath like whales, so the only way to find them is to patrol an area – up and down along the coast. The crew stand lookouts on the roof of the boat looking for a large dark shadow in the water.

Whaleshark, Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Whaleshark

Then, if one is spotted, there is a flurry of activity as we get on our gear and jump overboard. At this point, the race begins. Although these huge animals are barely moving a fin at all, they maintain such a fast speed that we as mere human snorkellers must kick and kick and kick as fast as possible to keep up with them. They do not seem to be bothered by us at all – in fact, on several occasions they appeared to be curious and changed direction to come right up close underneath – within only a few metres of us.
When they are this close, they take your breath away. They really are special creatures!

They are so spectacular, that this creature will be the topic of my Creature Feature for this week.

Creature Feature – Whalesharks

Whalesharks are well known to frequent a spot on the southern part of the Ari Atoll – no one really knows why they ‘hangout’ in this area. But they seem to be mainly young-adult males that are about 6–8 metres in length.

Although this is considered relatively small for a whaleshark (they can reach sizes of over 12m) they are still incredibly impressive. In fact, whalesharks are the largest fish in the world.

Whaleshark, Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Whaleshark

Whalesharks are a type of shark – not a whale. They, like all sharks, have a cartilaginous skeleton rather than bone, have what are called denticles covering their skin instead of scales, do not have an air bladder, but use a liver full of oil for buoyancy, and of course they have ‘replaceable’ teeth rather than only one set like most reef fish. Sharks have hundreds of teeth and can go through as many as 30,000 teeth during their lifetime.

What happens is that teeth that form the ‘front-row’ periodically fall out, and within only a few days another tooth that behind in the ‘second-row’ will rotate into position. It is kind of like a conveyor belt of teeth. In this manner the shark always has fresh, sharp teeth! Whalesharks, although they do not use them, actually have about 300 very small teeth.

How whalesharks feed

So how does a whaleshark feed if it does not use teeth? Well, these giants of the sea, feed on some of the smallest animals in the ocean, plankton, by a method called filtering feeding.

Inside their mouths they have an unique system of filter-pads that trap all the small plankton – a lot like a sieve.

Whalesharks feed in two ways – ‘gulping’ and ‘ram feeding’. If there is plenty of concentrated plankton in the water, these sharks will stay in one place and take in huge gulps of water full of plankton.
If, however, the plankton is spread out in the water, then the sharks will swim at an average of 4km per hour with their mouths open – when they have enough food, they will swallow, then resume feeding – this is ‘ram-feeding’.

To watch them feed is incredible. They have huge mouths – up to 1.5 metres wide and they can filter over 300,000 litres of seawater per hour.

Identifying whalesharks by their spots

Other than the sheer immense size of these fish, the other really noticeable feature is the patterning. They are fully covered with spots and dots, and some lines – really beautiful.

They almost look like a bright starry night sky. In fact, a few years ago a couple of scientists came up with the interesting idea to use a computer program designed for tracking stars to document the spots on individual whalesharks.

Since the patterning on each whaleshark is unique for that individual (much like our human fingerprints are unique to each person), scientists have been able to compile a global database of whalesharks from photographs of their spots.

So, when you visit Halaveli Resort, be sure to take the trip out looking for whalesharks – it is fantastic!

Read more

Discover what happened when Robin Aiello went diving with baby whitetip sharks at Halaveli

Visit our website to find out more about this deluxe resort – Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Boost your well being in the Seychelles

Take time out in paradise to reconnect with a calmer, more peaceful inner you.

Constance Ephelia, Seychelles

At Constance Ephelia, Seychelles

With a holistic approach to well being, the luxurious spas at Ephélia and Lémuria offer a range of treatments for body and mind in their Shiseido and Spa de Constance spas.

Combining the eastern traditions of skincare offered at the Shiseido spa and the western expertise and knowledge of the Spa de Constance, guests are given an extensive range of beauty and well being treatments.

Favourites include:

  • Top to toe Traveller’s massage at Ephélia
  • Shiseido’s wrinkle-lifting facial available at Ephélia and Lémuria
  • Spa de Constance’s tropical stone detox
  • Couples’ massages
Spa experience at Constance Ephélia

At Ephélia guests can make the wide range of spa treatments central to their holiday experience in the peaceful, spacious elegant surroundings of their very own spa villa. A tranquil haven for two, each villa comes complete with:

  • Double treatment room
  • Hot tub
  • Steam shower
  • Laconarium (sauna/hammam)
  • Swimming pool in own private garden

For those looking for even more choice there is also an entire spa village at Ephélia where our dedicated staff have put together a range of treatments, both traditional and cutting edge, from around the world specially for our guests.

The spa village, with its islets of beauty and well being, includes 14 specialist treatment rooms, hair salon, manicure and pedicure room and nail, eyebrow and make-up bar.

Spa at Lémuria

Spa de Constance at Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

Spa de Constance at Lemuria

At Lémuria we take the search for inner peace and well being beyond the tranquil haven of our Spa de Constance and Shiseido Spa. Taking advantage of our idyllic location we offer a selection of activities across the island which we hope will touch your spirit and free your soul.

  • Sunset beach work out
  • Health walks
  • Sunset walk to Anse Georgette
  • Nature walk to Anse Lazio

Of course, in your every day life you may not be lucky enough to have the beauty of the Seychelles on your doorstep but our passion for well being doesn’t end when you leave us. At Lémuria we aim to give you the tools you need to continue to benefit from the activities you have discovered with us.

The Spa de Constance at Lémuria offers guests the chance to train in various approaches to meditation and yoga so that you can carry on the connection you’ll find to your self once you return home.

Find out more

Visit our website to find out more about Constance Ephélia and Constance Lémuria, Seychelles

 

Fast track to fitness with Isabelle Lamant

Fitness guru Isabelle Lamant has built up a loyal following of fans since joining Le Prince Maurice late last year, empowering guests with her exciting approach to getting fit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Here she talks about what makes her approach so popular.

Isabelle Lamant at Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

Isabelle Lamant at Le Prince Maurice

I’ve been working at Le Prince Maurice for five months now and it brings me great pleasure. Teaching my classes here brings me a feeling of real happiness.

Here’s some more about the training I offer guests visiting the resort. Each week I hold:

  • Hatha and Ashtanga yoga classes on the beach
  • Aquagym in the lap pool
  • Tone up, stretching, special abs and glutes classes
  • Zumba circuit training

All of these programs are good for both health and body shape with some guests saying they feel like they’ve visited a health camp during their time with us.

Don’t worry about your fitness levels or your previous experience because I adapt my classes to suit everyone from the beginner to those much more experienced.

Yoga at Le Prince Maurice

During my yoga class we practice breath control and asanas (posture) which improves strength and flexibility. Then the restorative aspect of the session is a delightful way of giving prizes to our muscles after a hard workout. You will learn relaxing postures you can do every day wherever you are.

Toning classes and personal training

Yoga on the beach, Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

Yoga on the beach at Le Prince Maurice

My tone-up classes will really help work every muscle in your body. Together we will tone-up abs, glutes, arms, back and legs, stretching them to sculpt a beautifully balanced body. I will even show you a routine you can do at home to carry on the good work.
I also offer personal one-to-one training to work specifically the areas your body needs. Sessions can be carried out in the fitness centre, in your room or even on the beach.

I look forward to seeing you soon for your stay at Le Prince Maurice, a place for well being and health.

Isabelle.

Read more

Golf monthly visits Constance golf courses in Mauritius

Jeremy Ellwood of Golf Monthly reflects on his week of golf at Belle Mare Plage in December, and playing in the Constance Hotels’ pro-am before the MCB Tour Championship.

Constance Legend Golf Course, Mauritius

Constance Legend Golf Course, Mauritius

Watch the video on You Tube: Constance Belle Mare Plage, Mauritius: the Links and Legend courses or read more on Golf Monthly.

Find out more about golf at Constance Hotels:

Out on the water in the Indian Ocean

Let your spirits soar as you feel the exhilaration of playing out on the Indian Ocean with our range of watersports and activities.

Wakeboarding, Constance Hotels & Resorts

Wakeboarding at Constance

Feel the wind in your hair and the spray of salt water on your skin as you take to the Ocean in a variety of boats, water skis, wakeboards or windsurfs.

Fishing
Tap into local culture with a trip on a traditional fishing boat and fish the way locals have for hundreds of years. At Halaveli and Moofushi in the Maldives you can go night fishing with experienced guides while at Tsarabanjina, Madagascar you’ll have the opportunity to experience the thrill of full moon hand-line fishing.

Big game fishing
If your looking for that extra rush why not try pitting your strength and wits against the beasts of the ocean with big game fishing at Halaveli, Maldives or our resorts in Mauritius, Belle Mare Plage and Le Prince Maurice.

Deep dives
But if you’d rather watch the giants of the ocean than catch them take a dive with our shark specialist at Moofushi or do the ‘shark pit’ dive at Halaveli.

Watersports at Constance Belle Mare Plage, Mauritius

Watersports at Belle Mare Plage

Staying above the water

For those who prefer to stay on the surface there is still plenty to do. There’s a huge choice at each of our resorts, including Ephélia and Lémuria in the Seychelles.

  • Feel the thrill of cutting through the waves at top speed in one of our catamarans available at most resorts.
  • Harness the wind to glide across the waves windsurfing or kite surfing.
  • Get a blast of speedboat power for high-speed water skiing and wakeboarding.
  • Enjoy the water at your own pace and under your own steam with pedal boats and kayaks available at most resorts.

Find out more

Tee off in ultimate luxury at Constance Hotels

For the definitive luxury golf holiday look no further than Constance Le Prince Maurice and Constance Lémuria in the Indian Ocean.

Golf pro at Constance Lemuria

Golf pro at Constance Lemuria

At Le Prince Maurice in Mauritius and Lémuria in the Seychelles our ultimate luxury holiday experience means keen golfers can indulge their passion without compromising on style.

The elegant 5 star hotels offer discreet, attentive service, stunning accommodation, sumptuous spas and refined fine-dining combined with beautifully conceived 18-hole championship golf courses in stunning locations.

Golf at Constance Lémuria

Winner of the 2012 World Travel Awards Leading Golf Resort in the Indian Ocean for the fifth year running, Lémuria truly offers the opportunity to play golf in paradise.

Boasting the only 18-hole golf course in the Seychelles, the hotel’s course with its terraced greens and stunning views across three beaches is often described as one of the most beautiful courses in the world.

After your round, sit back and enjoy the view with a glass of champagne at the clubhouse or meet up with friends to enjoy a sophisticated fine-dining experience at The Seahorse restaurant overlooking the 11th green.

Luxury golf at Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

Champagne at the 15th hole, Lemuria

Golf at Lémuria includes:

  • Free green fee for resort guest
  • Free club cars
  • Coaching sessions with golf pros by arrangement
  • Golf equipment available to rent
  • The chance to book tee-off times with the online concierge service before you arrive

Constance Le Prince Maurice

At Le Prince Maurice golfers will find luxury both on the course and off, with two 18-hole championship courses to play and all the facilities to enjoy at this elegant boutique-style hotel.

Celebrate your love of the game with our deluxe golf experience. Enjoy a welcome pack of tees, pitch remover, score cards and brochures and a 30 minute complimentary ‘course discovery’ with one of our pros when you make a reservation for either course.

Legend golf course, Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

Legend golf course, Le Prince Maurice

The Legend Golf course offers the very latest in modern golf advancement built to USPGA specifications and using Tif Dwarf grasses to ensure a perfect playing surface. Designed by Hugh Baiocchi the course is a par 72 set in the stunning heart of an indigenous forest.

Together with the hotel’s other 18-hole course, The Links, the resort has hosted the MCB Tour Championship since 2009.

Golf at Le Prince Maurice includes:

  • Unlimited green fees at both courses
  • Coaching from pros of the Marc Farry Golf Academy
  • Blocked tee-off times
  • Unlimited bookings for tee-off times before arrival with our online concierge service
  • Free club cars
  • Shuttle to courses available non-stop from 7am-7pm
  • Limousine service to golf courses bookable
  • Weekly complimentary golf clinic with golf pro

Indulge after your game

Take time to relax after your game with a trip to the Spa de Constance where a masseur will work specifically on golf-worn muscles. The ‘Golfer’s Tonic’ at Le Prince is particularly popular.

Constance Belle Mare Plage

If you’re looking for luxury golf at a larger resort why not try Constance Belle Mare Plage. Set on one of Mauritius’ most beautiful beaches, and renowned for its family friendly vibe, it shares the stunning Legend and Links golf courses with Le Prince Maurice.