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The Pigeon Ilets & The Cousteau Reserve

The Pigeon Ilets & The Cousteau Reserve
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The Pigeon Ilets


The Pigeon islets are two small islands1 located off Malendure, in the municipality of Bouillante, in Guadeloupe. This site is part of the Cousteau Reserve.

The name “Pigeon” is that of a landowner of the seventeenth century. The islets were also called “îlets in Guava”, although there is no trace of the fruits on these islands.
The Pigeon islets are owned by the state and are managed by the National Forestry Office. They are protected in various ways like making it a natural area of ​​ecological interest since 1996. Both islands are listed as natural sites and are part of the National Park of Guadeloupe. As such they are recognized as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.


The islets are of volcanic origin, the rocks are mainly composed of andesite
The islets have about twenty species of trees. The dominant species is the pear-country. Also common but to a lesser extent, Ficus citrifolia, the manceniller a very deadly tree.
The only native mammal is the common black rat that has invaded the islets. The reptiles are the anole lisard of Guadeloupe, and the native green iguana.
The site is frequented by tourists who practice the PMT (Palmes-Mask-Tuba) in the Cousteau Reserve, landing in the islets by canoe or kayak.

 

Reserve Cousteau

 

 

The heart of Pigeon National Park is managed by the Guadeloupe National Park and the Cousteau Reserve is a protected maritime area located mainly in the town of Bouillante and partly on that of Pointe-Noire on the “coast-under-the-wind” of Basse-Terre. On about 400 hectares around Pigeon islets, facing the beach of Malendure, the area protects the seabed and fishing is very limited.
As it is too often told, following the shooting of the film The World of Silence realized in the Red Sea in 1954-1955 by Louis Malle and Jacques-Yves Cousteau that the oceanographer added his name to what would become one of the most famous dive spots in the Caribbean Sea.
It is only in 1959, during the tests in Guadeloupe of the brand new diving equipment of less than 100 meters, that the commander of La Calypso discovered, with his team, the beauty of the site of Malendure and that he expressed the wish to protect the site by creating a marine reserve. Friendly and then advertising by the local traders that the places were immediately adorned with the title of “Reserve Cousteau” with immediate success with tourists.The wealth of the site is quickly known. At the same time recreational scuba diving is developing and several clubs are setting up around the site.Today the site has become a must for divers in the Guadeloupe archipelago.
The seabed around Pigeon islets includes many species of corals, sea fans, Neptune brains, sponges, tropical fishes and lobsters and sea turtles. During the months of January and February it is possible to hear the song of humpback whales making their courtship display further offshore.

 

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