From science and photography, to astronomy and adventure, this month we celebrate multiple dimensions of our beloved Tahiti.
Join us for a rare experience in paradise — the total solar eclipse — July 4-12 (limited space still available)
Tahiti Expeditions is working with Betchart Expeditions to put on an extraordinary trip to see the total solar eclipse on the remote Tuamotu island of Anaa. The journey also includes a full week of adventures on Tahiti and Moorea. You'll stay in Papeete and on the island of Moorea, with snorkeling, visits to the wonderful Paul Gauguin and Indo-Pacific Cultures Museums, and barbecues on motus (little offshore islands). A world authority on the spinner dolphins will take us out to observe them around Moorea, and an anthropologist will intrigue us with tales of the history and heritage of the South Pacific.
Curious about the path of the eclipse? NASA has an incredible collection of maps that show the narrow corridor that will traverse the Pacific Ocean as well as fascinating data. There is also an interactive map of the 2010 Total Solar Eclipse.
Image credit: Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA's GSFC
Science in Paradise
To experienced South Pacific travelers, Moorea has long been known as the most beautiful island in the south seas. It has an amazing combination of dramatic peaks cloaked by dense tropical vegetation, broad valleys that sweep up from bayshore to ridge, crystalline lagoons, and a vibrant coral reef system. If the sheer beauty of the place wasn’t enough of a draw, it is now also one of the best studied islands in the world.
This added dimension allows those visitors that are interested to participate in travel programs with Tahiti Expeditions that are focused on the natural and cultural history of this spectacular island. These programs are designed to be educational, active, and a lot of fun, and they draw on local experts and scientists for fascinating discussions and presentations.
The following is a short introduction to the research institutions and some of the great research programs that they host. Information from all of these programs are woven into our unique expeditions.
Gump Research Station and CRIOBE
It is really quite remarkable that such as small and remote island is home to two world-class research institutions, the Centre de Recherche Insulaires et Observatoire de l’Environnement (CRIOBE) and the UC Berkeley Richard Gump South Pacific Research Station (GRS). Both places have visiting researchers from all over the world with CRIOBE focusing on marine research and Gump hosting both marine and terrestrial studies. CRIOBE has been in operation here since 1971 and the Gump Station opened its doors in 1985, and the two stations have collaborated on numerous scientific programs.
In recognition of the research presence and the relatively pristine state of the coral reefs, the National Science Foundation chose Moorea as the location for its only Long Term Ecological Research site focused on coral reefs. This program brings together more than 40 marine scientists and is intended to be operational for the next few decades at least.
The Moorea Biocode project has as its goal to catalog every species on the island and to develop genetic markers for each one. This is an unprecedented study and will lay the foundation for an array of future projects in ecological and evolutionary studies. Teams of researchers from all over the world have divided the island’s flora fauna up and have been working their way through all of the terrestrial and marine biota.
The Oceanic Lab led by Patrick Kirch at UCB has been conducting research in Moorea’s Opunohu Valley, and elsewhere in Polynesia, for the last 20 years. During this time they have slowly uncovered the human history of this spectacular region. Opunohu Valley alone has hundreds of sites give insight into housing, agriculture, and ceremonial activities.
The Atitia Center
Over millennia the Polynesian people have cultivated an intimate knowledge of the island environment that has allowed them to settle and thrive across the Pacific. This knowledge has been passed down through the generations to modern time and still resides with elders living today. One of the primary goals of The Atitia Center, is work with these elders to record their knowledge and turn it into educational programs for the schools and community of French Polynesia.
A Cubic Foot of Reef
Photographer and author David Liittschwager has an amazing article featuring the Moorea coral reef that came out in the February issue of National Geographic Magazine. David traveled the world and in different habitats examined one cubic foot of biodiversity, taking his spectacular signature portraits of every animal and plant in each sample. He did this for savanna in South Africa, and rain forest canopy in Costa Rica, a river in Virginia, and Moorea’s coral reef. It is safe to say that Moorea’s reef steals the show, with over 600 species of plants and animals in its cubic foot. Read more...
View David's amazing images: A Cubic Foot of Reef on the National Geographic site.
Circumnavigation and Exploration of the Most Beautiful Tropical Island in the World — Moorea
Paddle your outrigger on crystalline lagoons. Snorkel on a coral reef and hike in lush tropical valleys. Experience field lectures and discussions of natural and cultural heritage of the islands at every turn. On this adventure you'll have priceless interactions with local inhabitants as you incircle on of the most exotic and gorgeous places on earth. This journey is ideal for families.
This is a great educational adventure that features the Moorea coral reef system as an outdoor classroom. The first four days are in Moorea and we will take advantage of all of the resources here to understand the basics of coral reef ecology. Every day after exploring the reef we will have presentations and discussions in order to out what we see in a the larger context of global coral reef studies. Then we will move to Rangiroa, one of the most exciting marine environments in the South Pacific. Here we will see different habitats, and have access to larger animals like manta rays, sharks, and bottlenose dolphins.
This is a fantastic trip for families or groups of friends that want to explore and learn together about the most diverse marine ecosystem on the planet. You will have a blast, and leave with a new appreciation of marine science and the world of the coral reef.
On May 1, 2010, French-American USMS (US Masters Swimming) swimmer Nathaniel Waring broke the previous record by an hour and twenty minutes. Waring swam from the west coast of Tahiti commune of Punaauia to Vailare's dock in Moorea, covering the 10.7 mile (17 kilometer) distance in 4 hours and 57 minutes. Read more...