Belle Mare Stories and Tips

A strange and colourful phenomenon

a natural phenomena Photo, Belle Mare, Mauritius

One day I went down to the beach a little earlier to take a few photos of the Hindu temple (see separate review) and was amazed to be "greeted" with a strong and unpleasant smell. It was a bit like rotten fish, but not quite as pungent. My immediate thought was that the smell was emanating from the piles of seaweed that had been pulled out of the sea by the hotel staff to create a better swimming experience for the guests. I approached one of the piles with some trepidation to check it out but it was almost odour free.

I returned to the task of photographing the temple and as I approached along the water's edge I noticed that there were sections of the sand that were red. I was quite obviously so but a gentle rub along the surface showed that this was not deep seated, just superficial. Curiouser and curiouser, I thought in the words of Alice in Wonderland, as I noticed that the water at this point of the bay had a film of red on the ripples as they flowed to the shore. Well that explained the red sand, but what about the red sea water and the pervading stench?

I took a photo or two and then meandered back to the hotel for breakfast when I mentioned this bizarre occurrence to my wife and friends. I'm fairly sure that none of them believed me but after breakfast when we headed off to the beach, the smell was still evident and my friend headed off to check out the phenomenon. He returned, with a few photos and confirmation that my description was in fact true.

We decided to check out where the stench was coming from so asked the receptionist in our hotel. He confirmed that the smell was indeed emanating from the sea and that it was an annual occurance. No one was absolutely sure what the source of the smell was but it is believed it comes from the coral reef. However, the red film on the sea was even more of a mystery and the reason for this sounded more like mythology than any attempt to seek out the facts.

We were told that the oceans are generally believed to be female and that the red dye was a sign of her fertility. It was, to quote the receptionist, her "annual cycle". That's exactly the way it was described to us. Throughout the morning the red film seemed to grow in volume around the Hindu temple but by early afternoon it had almost disappeared. The smell lingered on until half way through the next day, but then cleared totally.

I decided that I would check out the internet to see if there was any reference to this natural phenomenon. Despite using several different descriptions in search engines I’ve failed to find any information about this phenomenon. I’d like to think that it was a natural occurrence rather than pollution created by man and for now I will sit back and accept the fact that this is a rare happening and we were privileged to be there when it happened.

Unless, of course you know different!!

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