Constance Ephelia, Seychelles

Constance Ephelia, Port Launay, Mahé, Seychelles

Coordinates in degrees decimal :  -4.6556901 N, 55.4049487 E.

Visited in May 2019.  Photographers:  Nigel Thomas, Stephen Thomas and Jim Thomas.  Cameras:  Pentax WG-II, Olympus Tough T5 and Nikon Coolpix W300.

Website: https://www.constancehotels.com/en/hotels-resorts/seychelles/ephelia/

The resort Constance Ephelia sits on the north west corner of the island of Mahe.  It has two main beaches.  The best beach for snorkeling is on the northwestern side of the peninsular and is known as Port Launay Beach.   This beach has two reefs, one to the left hand side of the beach and one to the right, both within the Port Launay National Marine Park.  A second large beach may be found on the southeastern side of the peninsular (Lans Ilet), however, this beach is in an area with extensive shallow waters and has no easy or safe access to coral reef, although it still has alternative interest.   A further good beach for snorkeling, may be found at Lans Koken, to the northwest of the resort and accessed by following the path towards the Presidential Villa.   

The resort warns about swimming too far from shore on two further beaches, to the south of the resort (Lans Angle and Lans Trusalo), hence these have been excluded from this review.

An issue to be aware off is water visibility.  The calmest period and hence best for visibility is November through till April.  Thereafter the winds increase in strength and although they are southeasterly in direction, they create poorer visibility around the whole of the Island.  Unfortunately this review was just as the visibility was declining hence some imagery is poor.

Water temperatures range from about 25C to 32C, with warmest waters in the period March to May and the coldest in July to August.

Approximately 160 species identified, of which more than 60 were fish.  

Completed without the support of the resort.

 

Four locations worthy of snorkeling are indicated on the map:  1. To the right hand side of Port Launay Beach;  2. To the left hand side of Port Launay Beach;  3.  Lans Koken, off the north west coast, which requires a short hike and  4. Inside the Ilet which can be accessed by swimming/wading from Lars Ilet.

Site 1.  Entry point for location 1, on the right hand side of Port Launay Beach, just before the reef starts.  Any further over and the water may be too shallow.  It is better to enter from the shallow sloping sand beach and approaching the reef, once the water has become slightly deeper. 

The reef edge at location 1 is distinct, with Porites evident for over 250m, with shallow, lagoon like conditions behind it (Sargassum and Crowded Sea Bell are abundant).  Unfortunately much of the reef edge is moribund, with many areas of coral bleaching present.  The habitat changes further out with some interesting expanses of  Lobed Brain Coral.

Location 2 is accessible from the left hand side of the beach.  The same approach as employed for location 1 is recommended.  The reef edge on this side is more diverse and includes many different Acropora species, often in good condition.  The reef can be followed out to the area of the cross, which is a good location to aim for.

The best entry point at Lars Koken (location 3) is at the right hand end of the beach (facing the sea).  Best time to snorkel here is at high tide, as the shallow area behind the reef is very shallow with extensive algal growths.  Once past the algae, at about 75m from shore, the reef has a distinct edge with a good variety of coral and fish species.

The water off this stretch of beach (location 4) is very shallow.  It is possible to wade almost all the way to the Ilet.  The best entry point is to the left hand end of the beach, about three quarters of the way along, before the beach reaches the bank at the entrance to the river.

Although no corals occur in this area there are plenty of fish amongst the extensive Sargassum growths.  I swam much of this with my 4 year old granddaughter on my back, so it is good for kids as well.

Probably a great spot for a night snorkel, but unfortunately conditions were not ideal during this review visit!

Reef and seabed associated fish

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Indian Redfin Butterflyfish. Chaetodontidae.  Chaetodon trifasciatus.  Noted in pairs on the reef edge, area 1, 2 and 3.

Threadfin Butterflyfish.  Chaetodontidae.  Chaetodon auriga. Generally in pairs.  Noted along the edge of the reef in areas 1 and 2.

Emperor Angelfish.  Pomacanthidae.  Pomacanthus imperator.  Generally solitary, noted off the edge of the reef, area 1.

Semicircle Angelfish.  Pomacanthidae. Pomacanthus semicirculatus.  Noted off reef edge, area 1.

Circular Spadefish.  Ephippidae.  Platax orbicularis.  Small groups noted frequently on the outer part of area 1.

Powderblue Surgeonfish.  Acanthuridae.  Acanthurus leucosternon.  Small to medium in size.  Noted in areas 1, 2 and 3.

Convict Surgeonfish.  Acanthuridae. Acanthurus triostegus.  Large shoals noted over the top of the reef, area 1.

Striped Surgeonfish.  Acanthuridae.  Acanthurus lineatus.  Solitary and potentially aggressive, area 3 on reef edge.

Roundspot Surgeonfish.  Acanthuridae.  Acanthurus bariene. In shallow waters over reef top in area 2.

Indian Sailfin Tang.  Acanthuridae.  Zebrasoma desjardinii.  Small group of adults, noted over the coral on the outer edge of area 1.

Little fuzzy but good example of the juvenile form of the Indian Sailfin Tang.  Acanthuridae.  Zebrasoma desjardinii.  Noted over the top of the reef, area 1.

Moorish Idol.  Zanclidae.  Zanclus cornutus.  Characteristic long trailing dorsal fin.  Noted in small shoals in areas 1, 2 and 3.

Bluespotted Rabbitfish.  Siganidae.  Siganus sutor.  Small shoal (mixed with other species) noted on the reef edge and on the reef top, area 1.

Rabbitfish species.  Siganidae.  Siganus ?corallinus.  Notable over the edge of the reef, outer parts of area 1. 

Skunk Anemonefish.  Pomacentridae Amphiprion akallopisos.  Noted on outer edge of reef, in area 1, with Magnificent Anemone.

Small group of Humbug Dascyllus.  Pomacentridae.  Dascyllus aruanus.   Particularly noted in area 2, amongst healthy Acropora .

Two species.  Striped species, Scissortail Sargeant. Pomacentridae. Abudefduf sexfasciatus.  Green/blue species, Black-Axil Chromis. Pomacentridae.  Chromis atripectoralis.  Both in areas 1 and 2.

Banded Sargeant.  Pomacentridae.  Abudefduf septemfasciatus.  Noted over the top of the reef in areas 1 and 2 and over the mixed sediments and seagrasses  in area 4.

Jewel Damsel.  Pomacentridae.  Plectroglyhidodon ? lacrymatus.  Normally with bright blue spots evident.  Noted throughout the reef areas.

Probably Caerulean Damsel.  Pomacentridae.  Pomacentrus ?caeruleus.  Small individuals, generally in groups around live coral, areas 1 and 2.

Damsel/Gregory.  Pomacentridae.  Pomacentrus / Stegastes sp.  No clear id for this species.  Possibly a local variant of any number of these species.    Noted off the reef edge area 1.

Chromis.  Pomacentridae.  Chromis sp.  One of a very large group of species.  Noted over area 1, reef top.

Acropora coral supporting mixed populations of Chromis.  Area 2.

Bridled Threadfin Bream.  Nemipteridae.  Scolopsis frenatus.  Fast swimmer, over sandy seabed in area 4.

Spangled Emporer. Lethrinidae.  Lethrinus nebulosus.  Small individual but often grow to a large size.  Noted over broken coral around the reef in area 2.

Whitespotted Grouper.  Serranidae.  Epinephelus coeruleopunctatus.  Shallow water areas over reef, areas 1 and 2.

Possibly Honeycomb Grouper.  Serranidae.  Epinephelus ?merra.  One of a group of very similar grouper species.  Noted in shallow waters, area 1.

Oriental Sweetlips.  Haemulidae.  Plectorhinchus vittatus.  Moderate to large size.  Solitary on edge of reef, area 3.

Blubberlip.  Haemulidae.  Plectorhinchus gibbosus.  Medium to large species.  Noted in small group off the edge of the reef in area 1.

Terminal Phase Swarthy Parrotfish. Scaridae.  Scarus niger.  Noted on the top of the reef but in the outer region of area 1.

Initial Phase Swarthy Parrotfish.  Scaridae.  Scarus niger.  Water a little silty but characteristic red and black beak.  Noted in area 1 and 2.

Bridled Parrotfish.  Scaridae. Scarus frenatus.  Moderate size, noted off the outer edge of the reef in area 2.