Conference Heaven

The water is pale turquoise and like an aquatic moonscape. The contours of the reef are starting to emerge as the tide recedes. Over the reef the water ripples gently but at the edge, there is a marked shadow beyond which the sea rolls visibly higher. There too, birds cluster on a sand bank that has just surfaced: gulls and terns dip and whirl about with crazy abandon. In the distance two islands are now visible where there was haze before. The resort dive boat is just heading off to the outer edges of the reef. A squadron of giant black rays skirts the edge of the point followed by the white-grey shadows of a group of shovel nosed rays.


It is turtle laying time and the great creatures come up at dusk and return at dawn. Some, newly tagged, were laying for the first time, aged about thirty five years and returning to the place they hatched out originally. The navigation is by magnetic field, augmented closer to home by the water that they first taste on entering as hatchlings.


It is hard to believe this is a conference venue and that this particular one has been going since 1989. I missed the first one but have been a follower ever since. Computational Models of Creative Design is a topic that is just about as far from this remote island world as you could imagine. Here there are no mobile networks, no televisions, no motorised water sports or paragliding. Just the sea, the sky, and the animal and bird life of a coral cay that takes twenty minutes to circumvent.

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