The Natural Marine Reserve
Created in 2007, the Natural Marine Reserve extends along 40 km of coastline (20 km of which are coral reef), from Cap La Houssaye in Saint-Paul, to la Roche aux Oiseaux in Etang-Salé. This ecosystem provides shelter to more than 3,500 marine species.
Its surface area of 35 km² is divided between the general perimeter, the enforced protection zones (45% of the surface area) and those with full protection (5%). Guidelines have been put in place to supervise nautical sports (jet-skiing, kayaking, fishing, diving, etc.). In the case of full protection, all human activity is prohibited in order to enable a more rapid repopulation of the coral reefs. These rules are indicated on signs along the beaches.
IlThere is even a marked route in the water, right in the middle of the l'Ermitage Lagoon, with buoys indicating the viewing stations. This underwater trail can be explored free-of-charge, in the company of a guide: visitors, equipped with flippers, a mask and snorkel, are stunned by the beauty and richness of the seabed, a real natural aquarium! At the end of 2013, this teaching and ecotourism initiative enabled the Reunion Island Natural Marine Reserve to win an award from the IFRECOR (Initiative Française pour les Récifs Coralliens [French Coral Reefs Initiative]), an organisation responsible for promoting the protection of coral reefs in French Overseas communities.