Having an encounter with a marine mammal in its natural habitat is always a moving and unforgettable experience. Several Reunion-based companies offer this type of activity, operating with full respect for the environment and marine species, so that future generations will be also able to enjoy these encounters off the coast of the island...
The stunning waters of Reunion Island naturally contain an abundance of multicoloured fish and corals, but there are also some more imposing visitors! Dolphins and whales flock to the island's shorelines and visitors are entranced by them.
Watching pantropical spotted dolphins and blower dolphins is possible all year round: from the coast, you can swim alongside them during organised excursions with diving clubs, or even go out to meet them by boat. Scientists also have a particular interest in these magnificent creatures. In 2,003 they even discovered a species that had never been seen before off Reunion Island: the Risso's dolphin. The CéTO (Cétacés Tortues Oiseaux [Cetaceans, Turtles and Birds]) mission came across five of them during an expedition off the coast of Sainte-Suzanne. Proof of Reunion Island's incredible biodiversity, which now officially counts twenty two species of cetaceans. Among these, sperm whales, fin whales and the impressive humpback whales, which arrive during winter in the Southern hemisphere. This takes place from June to October, the time when they come to bask in the heat of the Indian Ocean, after a long journey from Antarctica! They can be seen, for example, from the island's West Coast, or even from Barachois, the coastal road that runs along the seafront at Saint-Denis. A listening device was even installed at this location in 2013, so that their calls can be heard through a radio buoy submerged off the coast. Extraordinary !
The O²CR label
With a view to respecting these magnificent marine mammals, the O²CR (Observation Certifiée Responsable des Cétacés à La Réunion [Certified Responsible Observation of Cetaceans in Reunion Island) label was created in July 2014. It establishes rules for not disturbing the animals too much and it is granted to professionals who offer this type of observation service to the general public, at the same time raising awareness about the marine environment. For the companies who were first awarded this certification (Croisières et Découvertes, Bleu Marine, Le 5e élément, Bulle d’Eau, Corail Plongée, Réunion Plongée and B'Leu Océan), this is a measure of the quality of their service.
This comes in addition to a charter for approaching humpback whales, launched in 2009 by SYPRAL (SYndicat PRofessionnel des Activités de Loisirs [Professional Association of Leisure Activities]) and Globice (Groupe Local d'OBservation et d'Identification des CEtacés [Local Association for the Observation and Identification of Cetaceans]), so that these fantastic animals can continue to live in peace and tranquillity under the admiring gaze of sea life enthusiasts.
Labelled providers 2015
- B'Leu Océan
- Bleu Marine Réunion
- Bulles d'Air - la plongée mobile
- Cinquième Elément
- Corail Plongée
- O Sea Bleu
- Réunion Plongée