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Coral Nursery at La Pirogue Mauritius

January 07 2020

La Pirogue is a truly sublime tropical hotel. Located on the dreamlike west coast of Mauritius, this four-star oasis offers guests a unique island holiday experience, complete with stand alone bungalows that boast a boho-flair and have all the luxury comforts you could need but still imbue an authentic Mauritian charm. 

La Pirogue

La Pirogue is well known for its typical Mauritian offerings (such as the street food), its fabled weekly seafood dinner on the beach and its sublime luxury accommodation, a stone’s throw from the white, powder-fine beach. 

The hotel also has its very own wine bar (the first of its kind in Mauritius), an excellent kids club, an on-site dive centre and unparalleled views of the famous Mauritian sunset - La Pirogue is the picture of paradise.

But, the greatness of this hotel goes far deeper than its swaying coconut palm trees that line the golden beach and tropical cyan waters. The staff here is absolutely excellent and the hotel is involved in a number of sustainable initiatives and eco-friendly practices. From the banning of straws and the bottling of their own water (in glass bottles that can be reused to minimise the use of plastic bottles) to recycling programmes, energy-efficient light bulbs and more, everyone who works at La Pirogue is bent on doing their part to lessen the hotel’s negative impact on the earth.

In-line with these efforts, there is another unbelievable initiative that La Pirogue is a central part of; a coral restoration programme that involves a coral farming project, the cultivation of a lagoon - or fixed rope - nursery and a floating nursery. In order to get guests involved in these incredible projects, geared at encouraging and maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem, there is also a unique programme that allows guests to “adopt a coral”.

This fascinating programme is headed up at La Pirogue itself, with marine biologist Dr Yohan Louis at the helm. Curious to find out more? This is what you need to know about the coral restoration programme at La Pirogue: 

The coral farming project started in August 2019

La Pirogue’s unique coral farming project officially started in August 2019. State-of-the-art oceanographic equipment was brought in to allow the marine biologist to better understand the situation in the lagoon. Only once the marine biologist fully understood the status of the current marine ecosystem, was he able to implement a plan to conserve what already exists and, ultimately, determine what is needed to help it flourish. 

Coral farming

A trial was conducted with the installation of three coral “tables” to see what was possible with regards to coral farming. The trial proved successful and led to the first official phase of the project and the creation of the Lagoon Nursery.

The Lagoon Nursery now has 9 tables
As mentioned, in the shimmering azure waters, just off of La Pirogue’s gorgeous shoreline (and not far from the dive centre), an integral part of the coral farming project has already kicked off with the Lagoon - or fixed rope - Nursery. This nursery has been planted in 9 “tables” and includes around 1 000 coral fragments from 4 different coral species. This nursery is not only inspected weekly to ensure that it is growing nicely in the best conditions, it is also maintained weekly, which involves the cleaning of the ropes (to remove coral predators and the build-up of algae, barnacles and other forms of biofouling). 

Coral Farming

According to Louis, the scientific following up of the coral growth is a critical phase for the success of the project and the good news is that after a recent inspection, the corals were seen to be doing well. It was noted that some corals are already showing signs of growth and there is currently a low mortality rate which is excellent news. 

An Open Sea Nursery has also been started

Apart from the Lagoon Nursery, Louis also looks after the Open Sea - or floating - Nursery. This nursery makes use of another type of coral farming technique which is being tested so that the best and most efficient farming technique for the circumstances can be determined. 

The Floating Nursery, which has been installed successfully in the open sea (thanks to the help of the dive centre’s team) and centres on a buoyant platform that has been anchored 10m below the surface of the water. This platform is secured to the seafloor and the platform floats in the water column. 

The Floating Nursery consists of some 550 coral fragments, which will be added to gradually. Towards the end of November, Louis noted that despite rough seas in the same month, the nursery was intact and well-anchored, and there has been rapid growth of the colonies (which had already taken place within two weeks of being planted). This is hugely positive news and it proves that the nursery has been anchored in a perfect site for coral farming.

Guests have a few ways they can get involved with the project

Since the inception of the coral farming project, Louis has involved the guests by spending time with them explaining the process of coral farming and nursery maintenance in detail. Some fortunate diving guests also had the opportunity to attach new corals to ropes and assist with nursery cleaning and maintenance underwater, an activity that was hugely enjoyed by all able to participate. This might become an activity more widely offered in the future.

Coral Farming

Moving forward, there will be weekly coral farming classes led by Louis (at the dive centre’s classroom) offered. These classes will involve an interactive presentation of the coral farming projects as well as offer insight into the project’s background, pictures of the progress, short videos and demonstrations of the different farming techniques. 

Now that the lagoon nursery is fully operational, guests interested in seeing it for themselves can arrange coral nursery snorkelling trips at the boathouse. As part of the excursion, guests will be transferred from the jetty to the nursery by boat and then will be provided with snorkelling equipment to explore the nursery safety. These trips are limited both in frequency and number of participants as the movement of too many fins and high sedimentation caused by the movement, is not good for the growing corals.

La Pirogue is also the base of the Scientific Research Project on Beach Erosion

If that wasn’t impressive enough, La Pirogue is actually the home base of another marine-based project which launched towards the end of 2018; the Scientific Project on Beach Erosion. This project, which is set to last for approximately three years, is taking place in partnership with the University of Mauritius (UOM) and the University of Western Australia and is funded by the Tertiary Education Commission’s Interdisciplinary and Inter-Institutional Team-Based Research Programme. This project’s main aim is to understand the impacts of the changing climate on the ocean, the reef-lagoon ecosystem and the beaches and what can be done to counter them.

Interested to witness the incredible work La Pirogue is doing, or, even better, to get involved yourself? Then be sure to book your magical island holiday at this four-star paradise, where unforgettable moments and experiences are everyday occurrences. 

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