Ia orana te noera, Ia orana i te mata iti api! Merry Christmas and Happy New year from Moorea!

2016 is coming to a great end. I’m vacationing with my family in French Polynesia for the holidays, we spent one week in Moorea and one in Tikehau. Moorea is the neighboring island to Tahiti, the island that houses the capital of French Polynesia. Moorea is a high island with a barrier reef and a beautiful lagoon that is home to many black tip reef sharks, lemon sharks, grey reef sharks, eagle rays, and pink whip rays. Our time diving in Moorea was absolutely amazing. The sandy lagoon is filled with sections of mounding coral heads and branching Acropora beds. Within the Acropora beds filamentous algae provides habitat for small seahorses.

seahorses

Can you see the seahorses?

The reefs are also home to the poisonous and elusive stonefish.

stonefish

Can you see the stonefish? He’s looking right at you!

We spent two days on Captain Taina’s Glassbottom boat. Captain Taina is an amazing captain, her family has kept the land surrounding this are of the lagoon and the motus (islets) within it for generations. During her time captaining her glassbottom boat tour the community has worked to create a protected area for marine life in the area. The motus and surrounding mangroves are an important nursery area for many species, supplying juveniles for much of the lagoon of Moorea. Young blacktip sharks, fish, and other species survive within the safety of the mangrove roots. Here in Moorea mangroves are native and an integral part of the island and lagoon ecosystem. Captain Taina even showed us a large green sea turtle that she rescued from a market, where she was to be sold for food, and released in front of her home here on Moorea. The turtle happily resides within the marine preserve that fronts Taina’s property. To meet the rays and blacktip sharks in Moorea, Captain Taina is the best! I highly recommend her tour!

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Diving with black tip reef sharks and rays on Captain Taina’s glassbottom boat tour. Photo by Elizabeth Sides.

It’s our last day here on Tikehau, so I’ve got to get in the water. I will have to update about the limu of Moorea and the rest of my trip on Tikehau later. Happy holidays!

Manuia!

Veronica

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