Lush green coconut trees, thick vegetation, turquoise waters and crushed coral shores. After coursing through a challenging channel between the Motu Islands of this fantastic and large atoll, we came inside the lagoon to an anchorage overlooking a tranquil scene - a tropical paradise that includes a small town, a few dive shops, a pearl farm and a resort hotel.
We explored the sediments below the ship for a geological project investigating the history of the coral lagoon during the early morning hours. Using our zodiacs we made landfall and took on a variety of shore activities. Snorkel trips took off investigating the reef fish, channel explorations revealed a vast biological diversity inclusive of rays, barracuda, reef fish and sharks. The atoll’s fishers and divers know the sea well here and shared with us the Polynesian’s latest information on the state of their reef.
Missions on small boats to investigate the geology of the lagoon and students studying pelagic fish went off after the rare dogtooth tuna. Fishing on the outside of the atoll we encountered several bait balls rich with frigate birds, boobies and yellowfin tunas. We almost caught the elusive dogtooth as the sun set but lost this large reef predator right at the boat. Perhaps in the Marquesas we’ll get another opportunity. The port stop was short but allowed the students and faculty time to explore a remarkable location in the Tuamotus - the “Sea Islands”.
Dr. Barbara Block