Tuesday, 27 January 2015

British Indian Ocean Territory 2005

Indian Ocean-British Indian Ocean Territory  This is a map to show you the islands in this group. On this trip the first island to visit was Danger Island. Also visited was Eagle,Three Brothers, Salomon and Peros Banhos. On Peros and Salomon both islands had the buildings and graves of the people who once lived there. The people were removed in 1976. This is a very sad story and if interested I suggest you Google it . I visited here from 17 April to 5 May 2005. Nearly 10 years ago. 

British Indian Ocean Territory if currently off limits to visitors ( excluding yachts who make their own way usually from Cocos (Keeling) and Christmas Islands in the Indian Ocean. I was lucky to be part of a Scientific mission to see who the Islands were after the Tsunami of December 2004. 
Flag of British Indian Ocean Territory also known as BIOT.
This is how the some of the low lying atolls look like as we arrive by boat. The water was nice and warm and usually very calm. Though this area has some of the highest rainfall in the world. 
To get to each island we had to leave our "mother ship" and get on a Zodiac . Usually we could not get right to edge of the land due to coral .So as seen in the second photo we had to swim the last part in , usually holding waterproof bags with our cameras. Sure was fun !!! 
There was 16 on the trip in total. Here some of us on the ship. The " Indian Ocean Explorer" . The captain was great as was the fresh food prepared every day. Unfortunately the ship was captured by Somali pirates in the area of the Seychelles around 2008 and was burned. The Captain did survive but has not gone back to sea since as far as I know. 
The first photo from the top shows the old plantation Managers house. This is on Peros Banhos . On one of these Islands we found horses which was pretty amazing. On Peros Banhos the old Church and the cross at the harbour still stands tall. Finally some messages written in blood by the last people to leave or taken from the island. Today they still fight for justice to return to these Islands. I hope one day to visit if they are returned to the people of the Chagos Islands. BIOT is a made up name . 
While visiting these Islands I was lucky to be able to dive and see how pristine these waters are. This was not by camera but were manly taken by the scientist on the trip. I will never forget the vibrant colours and life around the sea bed. I understand that some of the underwater photos were subsequently used for the design of postage stamps issued by BIOT. 
I wont forget this in a hurry. Sea cucumbers a major delicacy in Japan. As we were on a official trip approved by the British Government we were due to meet the Marine immigration officials from BIOT. However on the day prior to meeting them , on a remote Island , I found these sea cucumbers laying out to dry. As such I with others then discovered fisherman living on this remote island catching these . They when exported are quite expensive. However, as we then had to report the fisherman for being on the islands, the marine officials had to change course to get here and take the fishermen back to Diego Garcia to be removed from the Islands. So no passport stamp for any of us on this trip!!
Here I am at the entry point to Peros Banhos. Right at the harbour not far from the church. 
Some photos relaxing on the islands. On one of the days I was "in Charge "  so a mark of respect I was given a foot mat and a was allowed to listed to the BBC world service . 
One of my favourite pastimes was to watch the Hermit crabs come and go. Amazing and when you went near them they would stop walking and bury themselves in the sand. They are all carrying sea shells that help to protect them. 
On my way home the Captain had found out it was my birthday . So I woke up to see this notice on the message board , just before Breakfast. A very memorable day . Unfortunatly there is only a Post office in Diego Garcia so I had to send my postcards there for processing as you can see on this blog. However a trip that I was very fortunate to take part in and one I will never forget. Since then I have become a friend of the Chagos and also on Facebook to help these people go back to there home. Hopefully it will happen sooner rather then later...... 

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting! In Guadeloupe we have a lot of sea cucumbers, but they are considered as toxic (since they fiter the water) and not eatable.