Coral Garden

Yesterday we sailed out to an anchorage on the western barrier reef of Tahaa, where we wiggled Pitufa in between coral heads to a shallow sandbank where we anchored with less than 2 m under the keel. At a first glance the place was just perfect: a turquoise swimming pool with Pitufa swaying gently on a short chain that we had buoyed with two fenders to avoid touching coral heads. Behind us four tiny motus with palm trees, the thundering outer reef and further in the background Bora Bora’s impressive silhouette.

Only when we stuck our heads under the water we were slightly disappointed. Just like in Moorea and on the other side of Tahaa we found mostly dead coral, overgrown with some algae and lots of sea urchins, but hardly any fish (apparently there is not much Ciguatera and so the lagoon is fished empty). Today we took the dinghy to the famous ‘coral garden’ in the channel between the biggest motu (with a fancy hotel on it) and the next island. This snorkel area’s highly recommended in guide books and it’s true, there are lots of fishies in the area and at least some live coral as well. Unfortunately there seems to be no awareness of environment protection: the sight of hordes of tourists trampling over the corals, touching everything while swimming and thoughtlessly kicking the delicate structures was sad though. Even worse is that they were accompanied by local guides who acted just the same.
If they keep acting this way they’ll soon have the last coral remnants destroyed. If they aren’t interested in protecting the environment for its own sake, they should at least realise that it’s the main tourist attraction and protect their source of income.

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