The origin of a name for an island otherwise precious today
Ambergris results from the sperm whale’s digestion of squid ink. Since time immemorial it has been a precious ingredient used in perfumes. The name Île d’Ambre (Amber Island) is held to originate from the presence of ambergris on its beach when the first visitors landed there. Today, the island is precious for other reasons.
The witness of a historical event that acquired great fame
Archives dating from the French occupation of Mauritius indicate that the island became inhabited after the wreck of the Saint-Géran on its reefs, which event became famous due to the success of Paul & Virginie novel. The latest traces of human habitation date back to some hundred years, and some remains of the houses of the old days can still be seen in a clearing.
A decreed nature reserve that is closely protected
From the time Île d’Ambre became unoccupied, it has been placed under the aegis of the Forestry Department as a decreed nature reserve. A jetty facilitates access to the island. The Forestry Department staff re-establishes flora species that used to make up its original endemic and indigenous flora, as well as through a stringent control of the proliferation of invasive exotic species. The island also owes to its dedicated guardians the maintenance of the paths winding through the island. Allowing researchers to explore the island, they also enable visitors to take a closer look at the Blue Latan Palm endemic to Mauritius, the Tecoma tree, the Araucaria pine and other endemic plants of Mauritius and the Mascarene islands, as well as geckos and butterflies.
Away from the bustle of the world, a precious marine ecosystem
The mangrove surrounding the island acts as its protection belt ; natural shaded canals wind through, which allows you to admire it closely. The salinity level of its waters are higher as it lies in the shallow and calm lagoon bordering St Antoine coastline. As nature’s magic works wonders, the roots of the red mangrove – which is the dominating species around Ile d’Ambre, are highly effective at filtering salt to remain impermeable to it, thereby keeping the island’s mangrove fringe dense and luxuriant.
The heart of the mangrove is a haven of tranquillity bathing in the ambience of an idyllic sanctuary away from the bustle of the world. It hosts birds, shelters crabs and molluscs; acts as a nursery and is a nanny to fishes, providing them with food and protection. The mangrove’s roots also play an important role in preventing the erosion of the island and the seabed surrounding it during torrential rains.
Make a note not to forget your snorkelling gear so that you can enjoy a close view of the flourishing marine life that the mangrove sustains and keeps thriving. Maybe will you catch sight of some young and mischievous puffer fishes who will take you for a ride, playing hide and seek…