I’ve been out on the water by boat a few times during this trip – once to explore a waterfall, and another to try my hand at fishing the Mauritian way – but I hadn’t actually dipped into the Indian Ocean until today.
Rather than snorkeling or scuba diving, which you can do almost anywhere coastal, I decided to take a form of transportation I had never heard of, let alone seen in person: the subscooter!
The subscooter is an underwater scooter that you drive by pushing foot pedals, similar to a car. It has a round helmet on top that looks like a giant bubble. Your head goes inside the bubble while the rest of your body is open to the warm ocean waters. A tube then connects this bubble to a tank that supplies a constant stream of oxygen while you zip around underwater. It works like an inverted glass underwater to keep air out and allow you to breathe. I was able to stay under for almost 40 minutes exploring the marine life without having to come up for air. It was definitely one of the weirdest things I have ever done!
Before explorers discovered Mauritius, the sea life here must have been a sight to see. Many types of sea creatures called the coral reefs home. Unfortunately, overfishing in Mauritius has had a negative impact on the marine life off the coast. Construction and pollution also continue to harm the lagoons. Today, I can only see a small percentage of the fish that I would have seen a hundred years ago.
But, Mauritius is in the process of passing new laws that will better protect the marine life on the island, while still making sure that people can fish enough to feed themselves and their families.
I zoomed along in the subscooter, and passed through a shimmering school of tiny scissortail fish. Then, one of my underwater guides treated me to an up-close and personal experience with an octopus. He stuck it right under the top of my scooter, so that its long tentacles wrapped themselves around my wrist. Yikes, I was stuck! I had to pry the slippery sea creature off my arm – and I’m talking rows of tiny, living suction cups! Still, tentacles included, I definitely loved every minute.